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‘Brut Force’ review: Promising modern day noir in wine country

The story moves at a rapid pace wit methodical reveals.

Brut Force is a modern day noir set in California’s wine country. The movie follows Sloane Sawyer (Leila Symington) who has just lost her job. She reluctantly returns home to find someone has been harassing the workers at her stepfather’s vineyard. Her investigation leads to a realization about her hometown. 

The story moves at a rapid pace while methodically unveiling its secrets in a way that is representative of the genre. Brut Force opens with a scene that gives a clear indication of what type of person Sloan is. The plot progresses quickly with fires, dead animals, and intimidating displays of force coming one after the other. 

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The mystery does not begin to unpack until the final act, however. Instead, writer-director Eve Symington builds up the setting and the film’s themes. A trip out to wine country sounds peaceful and enchanting. Visually, that can be found in Brut Force. There is an outwardly charm to the area that is impossible to ignore. 

Sloane does not have to scratch too far beneath this surface to see the true ugliness of the area. Brut Force takes on the misuse and abuse of migrant workers, elitism, and classism. In this case the bountiful vineyards are a metaphor for what is happening the rest of the country. It is a lot for one movie to take on, but everything comes together smoothly with the big reveal.

It is unfortunate that the acting lacks the same punch as the tale being told. While no one is aggressively bad, the emotion needed to get across the film’s deeper ideas are missing. Watching Sloane try to solve the mystery is engaging, but anything more falls flat. There is a lot of promise and good in Brut Force, but it just falls short of its bigger aspirations.

Brut Force releases on VOD April 21

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