I’ll admit, I normally let Western films slide to save myself witnessing all of the pseudo-macho, testosterone fuelled narratives, yet Brimstone, directed by Martin Koolhoven, is inexplicably a feminist masterpiece which still has all the blood, gore and pistols of your traditional westerns, so… fun for all the family.
The 5-star cast explored the anxieties and despair of women at the end of the 19th century in the American West, the script moved so far away from the traditional female archetypes that traditionally plague the genre that it allows Brimstone to unashamedly peel back your eyelids and expose you to a whole new world of torment for the women that lived in that time period.
Yes, we all know that it was never rosy for women in the 19th century, especially within inexplicably pious communities, but Koolhoven encapsulates it poignantly, executing the progression of the sequences with precision, compassion and anticipation. From start to finish, the feeling of dread never leaves you as you watch Dakota Fanning take the lead as Liz a veracious mute heroine through four mesmerising non-linear chapters in arguably her best role yet.
What made the viewing even more harrowing for me was the fact that I could barely detach her from her 2005 role in War of the Worlds, which just seems like yesterday, but along with Game of Thrones Carice Van Houten as Anna; Liz’s mother and Emilia Jones as a younger Liz, the actresses were some of the strongest female led performances I’ve ever witnessed. At this point, you’re probably wondering when I will get around to mentioning the two male leads; Game of Thrones Kit Harrington and also Guy Pearce who also added to the broiling pool of talent that earned Brimstone its 5-star review.
Pearce’s character as a sadistically warped Christian minister will leave you on pins as he sets about on his sinister conquest of retribution making sure Liz, never catches a break. Yet Liz bounces from one horror show to the next with the decorum of an absolute queen. Harrington’s screen time is pretty short and sweet, so for any hardcore fans, be warned, you’ll have to wait at least an hour before his melancholic face turns up in one of Harrington’s most loveable and adoring roles yet. Even if his American Mid West accent was slightly unforgivable (Sorry Kit, you belong in the North).
It would seem that the writer for Brimstone lent some inspiration for the plot alongside some of its stunning cast members from Game of Thrones. I won’t give away any spoilers, just don’t get attached to any of the characters. My heart hasn’t been in my mouth that many times since I watched the infamous Red Wedding episode.