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You are here: Greater Things > Bookstore > Movies > Reviews > Brigham City

Brigham City

Video Review

Richard Dutcher weaves a gripping murder mystery and amazing redemption into a sleepy Mormon town setting.

of four
"Four Stars—The reinvention of a genre"
Wade Major, Box Office Magazine

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 expediency.

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. 11, 2001.

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


From: "Wayne N. Reeves" <>
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.

Wayne Reviewer


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

Official Website
Glowing Professional Critique
Audience Reaction
LDS Films Review & Links - with background trailer sound clips from the movie.
FILM FUROR: 'Brigham City' Director Not Afraid of PG-13 Rating (Salt Lake Tribune April 4, 2001).



The Harbinger

Review by Sterling Allan

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