Senior HTF Member
- May 31, 2004
- Agua Verde
- Real Name
- Pike Bishop
OK, watched this the other night. It is an interesting new western that is sort of part thriller as well. It is told in 4 "chapters" which shift between different time periods in the central character's life. Basically you get her story from a young girl to an adult and for the most part learn that life in the old west was not a pleasant thing if you were a female.
This is written and directed by Martin Koolhoven and the title card actually presents this film as Koolhoven's Brimstone so the basic idea here is this director is, like John Carpenter perhaps, attempting to establish himself as a someone that is going to put his own personal stamp on his pictures. To this end this western was shot in Europe so that Koolhoven could maintain full control over his film.
This is a fairly dark western and particularly bleak for the female characters in the story. However, it does build and maintain a great deal of suspense which keeps you quite involved in the story and the fate of the characters. Our central character is played by Dakota Fanning and she is amazing, doing much of her acting in this film with her eyes and facial expressions. It is actually an Oscar worthy turn except for the fact that this film probably never came to the attention of the Academy.
The other central character in the film, known only to us as The Reverend, is played by the always excellent Guy Pearce and he turns in a rather vicious performance that seems very much about the madness that religion triggers in some men.
This picture reminded me at times heavily of Deadwood, not in a bad way as I liked Deadwood a lot, but that may have had to do with the scenes set in a brothel, the way the characters expressed themselves, and the generally bleak outlook.
Does Koolhoven reinvent the western here? No, but he gives us a very solid film that does a good job telling the story and using the shifts in time to his advantage. He also is very effective at building suspense and part of this comes from the strength of the characters he creates. This is a western told from a female perspective and it is not a pretty picture. I think looking at the old west through a woman's eyes has become a bit of a genre within the genre as this film joins The Homesman and Meek's Cutoff as recent pictures that feature women in strong roles that depict the harsh lifestyle they had to endure.
I think this picture has flown a bit under the radar but it is a very well made film and it was shot on some beautiful European locations that stand in for the American West. Combine this with the excellent acting and this is a western well worth your time.