Posted in Buckners reviews by Neal at 04:20, May 23 2022
Brut Force (2022) – a feature film review by Andrew Buckner
Brut Force (2022), the debut feature from writer-director Eve Symington, packs a lot of story and technical prowess into the first five minutes of its ninety-two-minute runtime. The guidance of the project is confident. Moreover, the editing from Daniel Hahn and Symington is incredibly sharp and efficient in this section. Every scene is just long enough to get a sense of what is transpiring before the next segment is introduced. There is also a welcome and quirky use of the music from Ali Helnwein injected into these bits. When these elements are combined with the believable performances and marvelous cinematography from Emilie Silvestri, which makes the most of the prominent earthen beauty of the surroundings of the arrangement, Symington creates an initial promise of excellence. Sadly, it is one which the proceedings fail to deliver.
Much of this disappointment arrives from the sheer predictability, rote mechanics, and generally plodding pace of the script. To be fair, the production has an opening twenty minutes that have a nice symmetry of character development and budding mystery. It also has a concluding portion of the same length that is tense and interesting. Regardless, what is erected in-between these sections on-screen doesn’t offer this urgent excitement. This is even if it does have its share of fascinating flashes and ideas.
What also hinders the fiction is that there are too many repetitive moments which showcase the lead, Sloane Sawyer (in an enactment from Lelia Symington that is stalwart and watchable), driving around. In so doing, she finds people to interview or all-too-convenient clues which may assist her in unlocking the puzzle she is tasked to solve. Another trouble area with the writing is that most of the central figures, including Sloane, are one-note. They are often treated like pawns meant to propel the plot forward. This is opposed to being fully fleshed-out individuals. Even the quickly dropped romantic rapport that comes into play early in the second act is more formulaic than necessary. Even with these flaws in mind, I endlessly appreciated the subtle, dialogue-driven approach Symington weaves into the attempt. But the result of this decision too often feels detached. This is even if both the speech and situations incorporated into the enterprise are consistently organic.
The undertaking revolves around Sawyer losing her job as a journalist at Inside L.A. Magazine. Hesitantly, she goes back to the rural California vineyard she calls home. It is run by her widowed stepfather, Arthur Stendhal (Sidney Symington). Soon after arriving, Sawyer hears of local migrant worker harassment, a building that Arthur was constructing that was set ablaze, and a fatality caused by said conflagration. As Sloane tries to find the root of these tribulations, she unravels a web of corruption and deceit that is often watchable, but never genuinely surprising.
The frequently intimate and human themes of the effort are varied and well worth exploration. Symington achieves a sensitive and mature balance of social issues, particularly fractured familial relationships, in the photoplay. These components all give the piece a thoughtful richness that is always refreshing. I just wish Symington had gone deeper with the material.
There also several memorable and heavily symbolic images in the venture. For example, there is a graphic glimpse into a motel crime near the one-minute-and-thirty-second mark that is noteworthy. There is also a dreamlike fragment that is spied in the last act. It concerns a baby crib that has been abandoned outdoors. It is the most effective sight in the entirety of the exercise. The affair benefits considerably from and could’ve used more of these instances.
Boosted by spectacular costume design from Avery Reed and same said visual effects from Taylor Aseere, Brut Force is uneven. It’s usually strong in most cinematic arenas, but its focal enigma is only intermittently intriguing. The composition has an admirable authenticity in nearly all aspects. Nonetheless, the article is constantly undone by its contrived, conventional narrative. It’s this brand of hit-and-miss attributes that hold the excursion back from becoming greater than the sum of its parts. Regardless, the talent of the cast and crew is undeniable. They help hold Symington’s middle-of-the-road endeavor together even amid its dullest episodes.
Brut Force receives *** out of ***** on The Buckner Scale.