“Brutal Season”

This film was screened at Fantastic Fest

“Brutal Season,” writer / director Gavin Fields‘ homage to “Death of a Salesman,” feels like a stage play that’s been filmed for the screen. More experimental than straightforward, this is a film that’s filled with difficult themes. While it may not be easy to watch, this is a potent drama with solid writing.

It’s a sweltering summer in Redhook, Brooklyn, and the Trout family is staring down the poverty line when the man of the house can’t seem to find work. He’s desperately looking for anything he can get in order to provide income to his family, but it’s not making things any better for the others who share the apartment. Tensions are heightened when their estranged son returns after being away for over a decade. It’s an ominous reunion that brings painful, long-buried memories to the surface.

The story takes place around the family’s kitchen table as they deal with old (and new) wounds that run deep. From far-reaching guilt and regret to alcoholism and debt, this isn’t the type of movie that makes you feel good. But by exploring tough issues like the underlying trauma of this American family, Fields paints an honest portrait of working class struggles.

This is a conversational drama with effective writing and intelligent verbal exchanges between the characters. The cast is terrific, and their performances complement the dialogue. There’s no action, only words, which means the screenplay and the actors are called on to do most of the heavy lifting.

Fields sets the mood with a haunting score and handsome directing, and the cinematography has a noir-ish quality that fits the material well. The film could benefit from a quicker pacing, but “Brutal Season” completely achieves the tone it was going for.

By: Louisa Moore

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