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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
It would seem that Brigham City has been largely rejected by its target audience -- the Mormons. This surprised me, as I found myself turning its themes over in my mind for a full week after first seeing it.
Granted, it is nothing if not disturbing -- especially to the Mormon subculture which has been so different from mainstream America for so long that it has come to pride itself on its separateness. Yet I found myself deeply moved by the film. It examines with agonizing realism (and sensitivity) a core fear of those with deep religious beliefs: Will my hope survive when God says no to my prayers and allows the world to come flooding in? Am I only in this for the perks, the protection? Will my faith survive pain that seems completely devoid of meaning?
Yet Brigham City's scope is not confined just to the Mormons or just to the religious -- its broader question is whether it is possible to be truly wise while remaining idealistic and innocent. Because of this, the movie seems especially timely and poignant -- both to an increasingly cynical America haunted by its beautiful-but-elusive potential and to a Mormon culture peering warily out at the rapidly growing, international church with its attendant array of alien dangers and trials.
What effect does encroaching despair and disillusionment have on each individual American, Mormon, idealist of any stripe? How much of your innocence and optimism will you have to part with, even in a victory? It's troubling, and no concrete answers are offered, as this is a question that each believer must ultimately answer for himself. I love this movie's balance of honesty and sensitivity, and I hope that Richard Dutcher will not be discouraged by the less-than-warm reception the LDS audiences have given it. We need more movies like this -- and by "we," I mean everyone.
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