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Western films, from silent to today

Brimstone (2016)

Brimstone (2016) DVD cover Dakota Fanning is Liz, a woman who’s found family and purpose in life out West with her older husband Eli, their daughter Sam and his son Matthew.

She’s also mute; she has no tongue. And she’s a midwife; using sign language to relay messages to her daughter.

It’s in her role as midwife that she’s forced to choose between the life of a mother and the life of her unborn baby. She chooses to save the mother.

That sparks the ire of the new preacher in town (Guy Pearce). The decision of who lives and dies is in God’s hands and God’s alone, he proclaims. Liz must be punished.

But from the moment The Reverend arrived in town, Liz knew there would be trouble.

She also knows the real reason The Reverend wants to punish her dates back years, before she settled into her new life.

Review:

You’ve never seen a Western like this Dutch-made venture before. And you’re not likely to forget it very quickly.

The violence is likely to make you squeamish. The treatment of women is likely to leave you disgusted. The Reverend, who hides his sins behind the word of God — well, you’re sure to hate him.

But you won’t be able to quit watching. And isn’t that the real test of a very well done film?

Understand this going in: The story isn’t told chronologically. The first chapter (Revelation) and the last (Retaliation) occur in Liz’s world. The middle chapters (Exodus and Genesis) tell you how the characters reached this point.

You’ll spot some familiar faces. Carice van Houten (The Red Witch) and Kit Harrington (Jack Snow) from the Game of Thrones have prominent roles. She plays the preacher’s wife; he’s an outlaw who befriends her young daughter, Joanna.

And here’s an interesting bit of trivia. In spite of their — well, let’s call it turbulant — marriage on film, Guy Pearce and van Houten became a couple during filming. In fact, they missed the film’s premiere at the Venice Film Festival because she was having his baby.

As for Dakota Fanning — wow! For two of the four chapters, she never speaks a word and still delivers an amazing performance.

Dakota Fanning as Liz in Brimstone (2016)

Dakota Fanning as Liz in Brimstone (2016)

Guy Pearce as The Reverend in Brimstone (2016)

Guy Pearce as The Reverend in Brimstone (2016)

Directed by:
Martin Koolhoven

Cast:
Dakota Fanning … Liz
Guy Pearce … The Reverend
Emilia Jones … Joanna
William Houston … Eli
Ivy George … Sam, Liz’s daughter
Jack Hollington … Matthew, Eli’s son
Paul Anderson … Frank, whorehouse owner
Carla Juri … Elizabeth Bundy
Carice van Houten … Anna
Kit Harington … Samuel
Adrian Sparks … Eli’s father
Justin Salinger … Doctor
Bill Tangradi … Nathan
Frederick Schmidt … Sheriff Zeke
Vera Vitali … Sally
Jack Roth … Wolf
Naomi Battrick … Narrator
Tygo Gernandt … Crawling outlaw

Runtime: 128 min.

Carice van Houten as Anna in Brimstone (2016)

Carice van Houten as Anna in Brimstone (2016)

Kit Harington as Samuel in Brimstone (2016)

Kit Harington as Samuel in Brimstone (2016)

Memorable lines:

The Reverend: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing. For inwardly, they are ravening wolves. Jesus is the shepherd who protects you and your family from those wolves. And I am his dog — the sheepdog that gets the lambs back on track when they stray off the path. And some of you have strayed, haven’t you?”

Eli, Liz’s husband: “Liz, The Reverend is a man of God. You’re seeing things that ain’t there.”

The Reverend: “None of this would have happened if that baby had been born in perfect health.”
Eli, Liz’s huband: “But Liz can do nothing about that.”
The Reverend: “She decided who was to live and who was to die. That decision belongs to God and God only. Why did she not leave that choice up to him?”

Eli, as death approaches: “Why?”
The Reverend: “Because she loves you.”

Samuel to Joanna: “I heard that story — the one about turning the other cheek. The only person who’d say something like that is someone who’s in control, someone who doesn’t want you to stand up to him. I’ve seen your mother. She’s the kind of person who turns the other cheek.”

Samuel to The Reverend: “My father was a real bastard. He used to put cigars out on my arms, the sadistic fuck. And he was a pervert, just like you. I killed him when I was 9 years old.”

The Reverend: “I am a doomed man, beyond salvation. I can do whatever I want … The time has come.”

Emilia Jones as Joanna in Brimstone (2016)

Emilia Jones as Joanna in Brimstone (2016)

Ivy George as Sam in Brimstone (2016)

Ivy George as Sam in Brimstone (2016)

Jack Hollington as Matthew in Brimstone (2016)

Jack Hollington as Matthew in Brimstone (2016)

William Houston as Eli in Brimstone (2016)

Paul Anderson as Frank in Brimstone (2016)

Paul Anderson as Frank in Brimstone (2016)

Carla Juri as Elizabeth and Dakota Fanning as Joanna listening to Paul Anderson as Frank in Brimstone (2016)

Carla Juri as Elizabeth and Dakota Fanning as Joanna listening to Paul Anderson as Frank in Brimstone (2016)

Guy Pearce as The Reverend in Brimstone (2016)

Guy Pearce as The Reverend in Brimstone (2016)

Dakota Fanning as Liz in Brimstone (2016)

Dakota Fanning as Liz in Brimstone (2016)

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