Richard Dutcher weaves a gripping murder mystery and amazing redemption
into a sleepy Mormon town setting.
Sherif/Bishop and Deputy discover first body.
May 23, 2002
While many movies move me deeply, rarely do they bring me to tears.
The ending of Richard Dutcher's "Brigham City" (DVD)
(VHF) did that for
me, as my wife and I watched it for our wedding anniversary last night.
One usually does not expect genuine spirituality to rise in a murder mystery movie.
Dutcher does an amazing job of weaving a very gripping mystery plot while also portraying real life
in a small Mormon community. He doesn't unjustly glamorize that life but epitomizes its genuine
life-changing moments with an honesty and nobility that few movies accomplish.
For some reason I thought the movie was based on a true story, and didn't realize otherwise until
preparing this review. Nothing in the movie caused me to think it was a fabrication.
I was also interested to learn that much of the movie was filmed in Mapleton, where my Dad was born
and raised, and where I too have lived a couple of times. My sister and her family currently live
there; and my uncle, Dean Allan, currently serves as the mayor there.
The one criticism I would make of the movie's plot is a scene in which the sheriff calls upon the
men in the community to go door to door and search each home -- without a search warrant. While the
extreme concern that spurred the sheriff to do this seems justified in the context given, such
actions present a dangerous precedent for violating fundamental rights to privacy. Even dire
circumstances such as presented in this movie, do not provide a waiver of those rights. Such excuses
are what fueled Nazi Germany. If the sheriff was indeed justified in this tactic, he should have
obtained a legal warrant to do so.
That Dutcher would incorporate this tactic into his movie and give it credibility is a scary sample
depiction of how ready the Mormon community is to give up their fundamental rights in the name of
This, unfortunately, is a fair depiction of a general shallowness when it comes to an understanding
of freedom's parameters among the mainstream LDS community. It is one of the attributes that makes
them likely candidates to stand in line when the mark
of the beast is enforced, with pain of death being the consequence of refusal to comply --
because of some 'socially justifying' expediency like Sept.
While Dutcher does a good job of portraying mainstream Mormonism with honesty, he seems to be
somewhat naive when it comes to knowing what it is to be a "remnant" spoken of in the
scriptures, who overcome all things and triumphantly establish Zion. That remnant will revere
and understand principles of freedom.
Nevertheless, the redemptive ending of "Brigham City" is a fantastic spiritual
accomplishment for which Dutcher deserves the highest of accolades.
It's definitely a movie I would recommend (with the above clarification) to all my friends,
especially those of the LDS faith. I'm not sure non-LDS would appreciate some of the innuendoes
nearly as much, though they certainly would still find the movie to be well worth their time.
I was pleased to see that Box Office Magazine gave it four stars of four. A truly great
accomplishment for a film produced for under $1 million.
Sterling D. Allan
Other Video Reviews
Sent: Thursday, May 23, 2002 12:05 PM
Subject: Re: (Video Review) 'Brigham City' -- brought me to
tears . . . BUT
I agree in all parts with this review, you have given, Sterling. I too found myself weeping at the
end of this movie, for the very deep way it touched me, but was concerned when houses were
searched WITHOUT a search warrant...
I figured it was just an "oversight" for the expediency of movie-making. But
thanks for an excellent review.
I liked and enjoyed "God's Army," but "Brigham City" succeeded on so many
more levels. It was truly creepy, intense and most importantly, complex. It dared ask some of
life's darkest and most difficult questions. Questions like, Does evil prey upon innocence? and,
Why does God allow suffering and tragedy to apparently devastate the lives of good people? Without
providing clear answers, viewers are left to contemplate and discuss these questions long after
the film is over.
Yes there are religious (Mormon) overtones to this movie. However, this time around, they are
less of an infomercial for Mormonism, and more central to the movies more important themes of
original innocence, innocence lost, and ultimately forgiveness.
About the Movie