Released in 2016/2017, BRIMSTONE is a tale of a wrongly accused mute frontierswoman who is hounded and pursued by a preacher who is intent on making her pay for a crime that she did not commit. Set in the Old west, it is a story that makes one’s emotions rise and also a rather gloom filled tale that makes one side with the girl as she is wrongly accused and then hunted by an obsessed so-called man of God. Directed by Martin Koolhaven, who has made a pretty good western here, which rans alongside films such as THE HATEFUL EIGHT and DJANGO both by Tarantino. It is a storyline that is filled with so many twists and turns but they all come together and make sense in the end culminating in a solid and engrossing thriller, drama, western. The film stars Guy Pearce as the driven and insane Preacher with Dakota Fanning as Liz the young woman he is intent on hunting down.
BRIMSTONE is a classy movie and one that will hold your attention from the moment it opens until the end credits roll, photographed wonderfully and directed with a passion. The movie is in sections, with each one becoming more and more terrible as the storyline moves on or develops. “Revelations” opens the proceedings which takes place around three quarters of the way through the movie, confused? Well don’t be it all comes to fruition in the end. “Exodus” covers the midpoint and “Genesis” provides the credibility the central characters journey. I thought that the film being sectioned up as it were would confuse matters, but surprisingly it makes the story and the movie even more attractive and compelling.
The movie is greatly aided by a score by composer/dj/producer Tom Holkenborg (Junkie XL), and although I am kind of late to the party with this one, it is also a score that I would recommend that you take a listen to, I am sad that I had missed this one, but it’s a case of another one getting under the radar in a time when so many soundtracks are released, That is probably one of the good things such as Spotify and even I Tunes, they enable one to get a second chance and search out scores that sometimes you were not aware of. This is a score that I have to say is more melodious than anything else I have heard by this composer, there is a deep and rich heart to the work, yes there are obviously darker and more atonal cues present but is this not just the way things are in film music, because if a score was all sweetness and light it probably would not do much to enhance the movie it was written for.
I am just overwhelmed by the amount of melodious and emotive sounding musical passages within this work, it is filled with delicate and at times intricate nuances that are pleasing and haunting, the accent within many of them being on the poignant and focusing upon purveying the fragility and the emotions of the moments. I have not been a great fan of the composers work as many of his scores are electronic and have to them a crashing and grating persona, which I can’t seem to separate from any actual musical content, I suppose it is a case once again of maybe generation, or even the way in which one perceives music in films. I think I am of the school of thinking that music should be a background but also should underline and bring to the surface the raw emotions that are present in a scene or performance, and at times without music do not manifest themselves. BRIMSTONE is an inventive score and contains clever orchestrations and quirks that add much to not only the film when one is watching, but also makes the listening experience away from the images a more enjoyable one. The score is a fusion of darkness, light, joy and the sombre, and although the sombre content does outweigh the moments that are lighter it is still a great work to listen to. The shadowy areas and interludes are shall we say interesting, low and darkly rich strings work their magic throughout, swelling and flowing to create a thickly sinister but at the same time eloquent sound that is appealing and tantalising.
Track number 22 WATCHING OVER ME, is I think my own personal favourite on the album, a lilting piano solo performs a delicate and beautiful theme which the composer bolsters and enhances via the use of strings, which although slightly overwhelm the piano are not in any way totally overpowering, in fact the strings fade slowly and the piano solo can be heard once again after a minute or so before that to fades and stops completely, we then return to the string section, who are given a powerful but subdued theme to purvey, it is gorgeous and highly affecting, the composer creating an adagio that is heart breaking and totally mesmerising.
The same can be said of the track EXODUS, strings again are utilised and rise and fall within the piece to develop a sound that is more akin to the works of the great masters rather than for a movie score, solo violin is used to fashion a highly emotional sound whilst we hear voices in the background which give this performance an even greater impact. Don’t do as I would have done and see the name Junkie XL and dismiss this score, I recommend that you at least check it out…when you do, I know you will be pleasantly surprised.