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Posted 09 Apr 2001   For week ended April 06, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 06Apr01

By Kent Larsen

Brigham City Draws Positive Variety Review; Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret News Split

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA -- Richard Dutcher's new Mormon-themed film "Brigham City" drew a strong positive review from the movie industry trade magazine Variety today, but drew differing reviews from the two Salt Lake City newspapers. What may be surprising to some is that the more negative review came from the Deseret News.

Variety's Scott Foundas sought to put the film in a historical context, saying that it "may represent the happiest marriage yet of the disparate propagandistic and narrative influences inherent in the subgenre of "religious" cinema." Noting that Dutcher is not affiliated nor funded by an evangelical organization, Foundas credits Dutcher with a film that may appeal to non-Mormons in spite of its religious themes. He says "Brigham City" will attract non-Mormons for "the finely detailed manner in which Dutcher elucidates the goings-on of small town Mormon life" and says the film "is actually the more revealing about the subtleties of the insular Mormon culture" than "God's Army." The Variety review has appeared in several US newspapers, including the Boston Globe, through distribution by Reuters.

Meanwhile, Sean Means, writing in today's Salt Lake Tribune, also said he liked the film, giving it a good review and three stars, crediting Dutcher with introducing "a frequently ignored element of small-town life -- the role of religion" into a film about the dark secrets that sometimes lurk in small-town America. Means also says that the film is "a crackerjack murder mystery," and says Dutchers "skills at storytelling are greatly improved from "God's Army." Means finishes his review saying "by raising issues of intermingling of the temporal and spiritual, "Brigham City" goes for more than entertainment -- and raises Dutcher from being a cheerleader for the LDS Church to becoming a serious chronicler of the Mormon experience."

But the Deseret News' Jeff Vice isn't nearly as impressed. Vice says that 'mystery' is the weak link in the film, saying that the storyline "doesn't seem to jell nearly as well as the other material [in the film]." In contrast to the Tribune and Variety, Vice also is unhappy with the film's production values, saying that it "doesn't seem quite as accomplished as 'God's Army.' " He also criticizes the film for being "slow-paced and drawn out, blaming some of that on the film's score. But Vice does credit Dutcher for making a "far riskier" film than God's Army becuase it has the potential to alienate some of his core audience while its "strong religious tone . . . could keep non-Mormons at arm's length as well."


"Brigham City" mixes murder mystery with Mormon life
Real Columbus (Variety/Reuters) 6Apr01 A2
By Scott Foundas

'Brigham City' Takes a Brave Step Forward
Salt Lake Tribune 6Apr01 A2
By Sean P. Means: Salt Lake Tribune

Mystery is weak link in 'Brigham City'
Deseret News 6Apr01 A2
By Jeff Vice: Deseret News Movie Critic


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