Director: Martin Koolhoven
Starring: Dakota Fanning, Guy Pierce, Emilia Jones, Carice Van Houten, Kit Harrington.
‘Brimstone’ aspires to be a suspenseful tale of guilt and retribution. It unfolds at the end of the 19th century in the American West, as an epic thriller told in four chapters.
Our heroine Joanna (Emilia Jones), who eventually changes her name to Liz (Dakota Fanning), carved from the beautiful wilderness, full of heart and grit, is hunted by a vengeful Preacher (Guy Pierce) – a diabolical zealot and her twisted nemesis. But Liz is a genuine survivor; she’s no victim – a woman of fearsome strength who responds with astonishing bravery to claim the better life she and her daughter deserve.
The film could have the potential of critiquing to what extent Calvinism created distortions in religion and misogyny. The title itself is emblematic to depict the extremity of certain preachings from the Bible: “Brimstone.” But the vivid depictions of judgement and eternal damnation to encourage repentance, are warped into an excessively graphic ostentation.
The movie adopts the Tarantino splatter effect, without a solid message to support the excess of violence. The ‘Game of Thrones’ actors – Carice Van Houtem (playing Joanna’s submissive mother) and Kit Harrington (in the role of fortuitous knight-in-shining-armor) – seem to have been cast simply because they seem to be very fitting to the bloodshed ambiance. On the contrary Dakota Fanning (adult Liz/Joanna) and Emilia Jones (teenage Joanna) convey great depth to the female protagonist, tormented by a fantastically eerie Guy Pierce.
Nonetheless female empowerment does not come across in a flattering way. On the contrary the heroine establishes womanhood and resistance, against the unforgiving cruelty of a hell on earth, in a confused and erratic the way.
Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi