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Sheriff Wes Clayton is a compassionate lawman and a Mormon bishop in a quiet Mormon community called Brigham. The tranquil town is shaken to the core when a woman from California is found murdered near her car. Clayton, his young deputy, the town's retired sheriff and his shrewd secretary work with an FBI agent sent to investigate. As a civil and spiritual leader in the frightened town, Clayton must serve both justice and mercy to uncover the town's deepest secrets, find the murderer and keep Brigham from ripping itself apart. Written by
Mary Jane Jones
Brigham City is a "Garden of Eden" story based in Brigham City, Utah. Brigham City is a little piece of Mormon paradise interrupted by the presence of an evil serpent. Never before has the city experienced a murder. This movie portrays a definite contrast between the "real world" and the naive town. This contrast goes hand in hand with Mormon communities. Mormon communities are well known and criticized for their isolation from mainstream society. The discussion between the sheriff and deputy about real world news and the fact that the secretary at the sheriff's office had not recognized the signal for a dead body highlights the isolation of the town.
The main character, Wes, holds a pivotal role in this film, as he represents the entire religious community. Serving as bishop and sheriff shows the difficulties of the Mormon community to hold dual roles. His refusal to listen to the news serves as an example of the isolation of the Mormon religion. Wes' naiveté represents innocence, but as the pieces of Terry's gun are methodically put together, so are the pieces of the investigation. Wes gains the knowledge he has been searching for when the gun is whole. Then Wes makes a decision that forces him to lose his innocence forever.
The dual roles of the sheriff also help increase the tension of the film. The tension is first apparent when a woman comes into the sheriff's office for a religious confession. The tension between these roles climaxes during the investigation of Steve's house. Wes, performing his duty of sheriff, had little patience for Steve trying to ask for forgiveness for hoarding a pornography stash.
One should watch out for the color red in this film as it plays a sinister role in the movie. The car of the first murder victim was red. The blood on the wheel was bright red. Most of the victims have red hair. The fingerprints of the murderer are taken from a red (admittedly almost maroon) cup. The murderer, himself, admits that his only blonde victim had hair that looked red when he finished with her. This color seems to connect the murders and symbolize evil.
The most telling scene of this movie was the shooting practice scene. In this scene, Terry and Wes have a discussion about the killer. Terry wonders whether the killer could feel remorse for his actions and whether the killer could be forgiven and sent to heaven. Then we see Wes miss most of his shots while Terry hits all of his targets. Terry's concern for the well-being of the soul of the murderer hints and excellent shooting skills are a strong indication that Terry is the killer. Wes' story lack of marksmanship shows his innocence while his story about his first hunting experience shows how easily innocence can be lost.
Clearly, the foreshadowing of this film may be been a bit obvious. Stu's death seems imminent from the very beginning because he says that one day his companions will miss him when he is gone. An ominous moment occurs when "All is well" is spoken at the gazebo. It should not go unnoticed that the next murder victim was found shortly after under the very same gazebo. And who could miss the signs that pointed to the murderer in the shooting practice scene? But if one dials the foreshadowing down some, imagine the suspense one could create.
All-in-all, Brigham City may not be at the top of one's list of movies to see if one is looking for suspense. At times, the movie becomes a little too concerned with the religious message and the feeling of tension is lost. The plot is a little tired and the foreshadowing allows one to identify the last victim and the killer well before the movie comes to an end. But if one is looking for a film that captures the very essence and struggle of the Mormon community, this film is one to see.
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