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
Richard Dutcher's follow-up to his spectacularly successful indie film GOD'S ARMY was this little gem called BRIGHAM CITY. Dutcher plays small-town sheriff Wes, who finds his little corner of paradise deep in not only a murder mystery, but also in the grip of a serial killer. All of a sudden, this quiet sleepy town is thrust into the national spotlight and bodies start showing up all over the place.
Wes is not only the sheriff; he is also the bishop of one of the local wards (congregations) in town, so he is placed in a dual role as both physical protector from a law enforcement standpoint and spiritual leader as well. His young deputy Terry (played by Matthew Brown) helps him out as does an FBI Special Agent (played by Tayva Patch) who flies in from New York to help out on the case.
As panic builds within the town and as they try to find who is doing all the killing, everyone is considered suspect. A town that has long lived on faith and trust begins to look at itself and each other in a new light now that the world has invaded on their corner of paradise and left their indelible mark on what for many of them had once been hallowed ground. It's certain that many of them will never look at life the same again.
Dutcher does an exceptional job of doing something nobody has dared do before, and that is exploring the dark side of the Mormon psyche, and doing so in a manner that does not denigrate either the Church, its members or the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and for that, he has my everlasting respect. All of us have our dark sides; if sufficiently provoked, even the most mild-mannered of society's members in or out of the Church can be provoked or driven to do things that are beyond the pale such as serial killings and the like.
BRIGHAM CITY will leave you guessing all the way to the final scene before you realize who the killer is, and the end will leave you satisfied that you have indeed watched a true cinematic masterpiece. Of all the films I have seen that were directed to a primarily LDS-oriented audience, this one disturbed them the most, which tells me this one is BY FAR the best, as most of the Utah-types are still mind warped in the "Happy Valley" mode, and for them, they are better off staying in their own little world. It disturbed them because it hit home, and they did not like that not in the least and the fact that it did, had me cheering all the louder for Dutcher.
Dutcher's film reminds us to use common sense in conjunction with our faith. I can think of at least THREE preventable tragedies in the last several years out in Utah that could have easily been avoided had more of the "Happy Valley" mindsets used a little street sense hand-in-hand with their faith. Come to think of it, we could all use more of both in our lives.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this film a 12/10. ***
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