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Brut Force [2022] review : A predictable Noir-thriller

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An effective work of noir thriller investigates the cityscape as a place for intrigue and deceit. It is a tricky road to take, considering the right balance of detached anger such a film demands. In her debut feature directorial ‘Brut Force ‘, writer-director Eve Symington tries to tackle the noir thriller, within the space of a local vineyard, with mixed results. In California’s central coast wine country, trouble brews within the seemingly small, well-connected locality. Some of the vineyard’s rural workers are threatened by the mysteries of an intruder in their households. This news reaches Sloane Sawyer (Lelia Symington), who is introduced in a short sequence while getting fired from her journalist position (for assaulting her male co-worker, which inarguably doesn’t prove any point about her strength). The estranged daughter of Arthur (Sidney Symington), the vineyard owner, she heads back to Santa Lucia to take this up on her own.

Oddly similar to HBO’s Sharp Objects, which had Amy Adams’ returning back to investigate home turf, Brut Force lacks the bite and thrill. Sloane’s entry into the odd surroundings that she is quite familiar with, feels quite the contrary. It is as if she is clueless herself as to what is happening around her, even if Symington constantly plays her with a careful, serious disposition. Her position and experience as a journalist feel like a fluke, as her ways of searching for the truth are far too naive to be taken seriously. The entire first half of Brut Force is dedicated to Sloane’s follow-up on the leads, which merely includes the fire that burns the whole farm down, the disappearance of Arthur’s employee, Dulce (Vico Escorcia), as well as meeting the charming Tico (Tyler Posey), and also finding the rest of the time following on weird neighbors who might have something to do with the case.

Brut Force 2022

It is in building these narrative blocks together that Brut Force falls flat. Symington’s script ponders over a lot of ideas over corruption, migration, xenophobia, and motherhood, yet none of these are delved into. Particularly the way in which certain parts of xenophobia is presented in the film takes the entire light away from the subject matter. Sloane glimpses over one incident and moves on to another as quickly as ever, and it results into a vacant climax revelation that relates back to her childhood trauma. Even though the implications were not obvious, Brut Force is fairly predictable in its proceedings. The final revelation does not cut deep as it intends to. It feels as if Sloane forgot to explore her childhood traumas (which are not given much thought anyway) to follow-up on the case. A chance meeting with the Superintendent, Patty (Tate Hanyok) leads to one such distraction, among many others, that ultimately does not situate well with the central arc of the narrative.

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Brut Force works in stretches when Sloane is able to find her way back to the main crisis. Even as her prospects seem as doubtful as ever, Leila Symington’s performance is devoid of melodramatic instincts and rooted in a matter of fact accountability. The supporting characters, and there are plenty, are presumably one-note, with little access to the narrative flow.

The background music, works for the most parts, yet feels woefully strategic in the car sequences. More, the dialogues feel unceremoniously staged at times, providing no connection to its audience. This detachment widens in the way the revelations are perceived- not with surprise but with a rigidity akin to indifference. Brut Force does not live upto the expectation of a solid independent feature in the noir thriller. I wish it had been mindful of the ideas and kept its scope limited in action.

Still, Eve Symington’s Brut Force is an engaging feature, that struts and falls in stretches, but retains its charms all the while. It is fairly predictable, but also empathetic and fun. For those scenes alone, Brut Force lives through. The intention feels intact, it is the execution- clogged with a lot of new ideas, that takes the thrill of the feature away. A one-time watch, through and through.

Brut Force Official Trailer


Brut Force Links: IMDb
Eve Symington
Patricia Velasquez, Tyler Posey, Tate Hanyok, Julian Silva, Stelio Savante, Lelia Symington


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