TIFF 2016 Review: “Brimstone” (2016) ★★★★


I knew nothing about Martin Koolhoven’s Brimstone until the moment when I held the tickets for the screening in my hands. But once the film started, it had already exceeded my expectations. Its outstanding western theme with the combination of a thriller and mystery broken down into four chapters will delight any movie fan.

Brimstone follows Liz (Dakota Fanning), a woman with no ability to talk, who after meeting Reverend (Guy Pearce), a priest and evil man, knew that danger is not far away from her and the family she built for herself. Having a step son and a caring husband, Liz has to deal with the consequences of Reverend, who seems has old business to take care of with Liz.

The second chapter of the film, called Exodus, reveals why Liz, back-then known as Joanne ends up losing her tongue. As a teenage girl, she finds herself in a brothel where she has to learn to please the clients. But if for some reason she leaves one of the men unsatisfied, she can lose her life the same way her friends did.

The third chapter of Brimstone is Genesis, which provides complete explanations of the connection between Liz and The Reverend and the reason why he is so obsessed with her. Liz, as a child was a very attractive girl whose mother was married to The Reverend. Having an ill-minded obsession towards Liz, the man is on the quest to make Liz, perhaps his wife. Now, when Liz has her own daughter, the Reverend promises to make the little girl suffer the same way Liz and her mother did.

Brimstone has everything to satisfy the audience’s expectations – excellent storytelling and filmmaking. More importantly, an outstanding performance from the entire cast while Dakota Fanning has finally found herself in this film shining as Liz. As a woman who’s unable to talk, Fanning delivers enough emotions to express Liz’s inexplicable danger she tries to escape from.

Absolutely everything works in Brimstone – cinematography, camera work and even editing. There is no such scene or the character that you would say that had no need to be in the film. The movie itself might be violent, but it never makes you turn your eyes away from the screen. Guy Pierce is simply perfect in the role of the vengeful preacher, Reverend, and trust me on that, you will dislike him as much as you can.

In conclusion, each and everyone brings a great deal to make this film an absolute joy to watch. Mentioning Dakota Fanning once again won’t hurt, as she finally puts herself into the map of a delicious roles she’s ever had to play. The emotionally charged character she portrays is quite impressive. If you’re more or less aware of her talent, you will certainly notice the way she had improved since The Twilight Saga.

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