I imagine the sales pitch went something like this:
Movie company: So you want to make a movie about a murder?
Director: Well, it's much more than that. It's set in a Mormon town.
MC: (pause) Riiiight. Did you make that movie about Mormon missionaries? Army of…
D: God. But the religion isn't the main focus. It's just a way to communicate how innocent the town is. It's never had a murder.
MC: Riiiight. So who's the star?
MC: You? And the writer?
MC: And let me guess, you're producing too.
D: Right. But this movie isn't a Mormon propaganda movie. It's how believing blindly in beliefs, any beliefs, might be your downfall.
MC: So it's a Mormon murder mystery with a moral?
D: In 10 words or less, I guess.
But somehow, the movie company made the film Brigham City. And despite its mismatched parts, it's a suspenseful melancholy movie about lost innocence.
Director, producer, writer and star Richard Dutcher is Wes Clayton, the town's bishop and sheriff, charged with protecting the town physically and spiritually. And as much as Wes would like those two roles to be separate, the good folk of Brigham won't let him.
So when a murdered woman is found on the outskirts of town, Wes wants nothing to touch Brigham. However, his deputy, Terry (Matthew A. Brown), is all too eager to help the FBI agents. And when a second and third murder happen, Wes has no choice but to inform the town. Soon, Brigham falls apart and its innocence bleeds away.
Dutcher did a wonderful job blending emotion with ideas of faith. Viewers worry about how the town tightens up. In one scene, a family is about to say grace before dinner when the father spots something in the adjacent house. It's just the neighbour and the father gives him a little wave-just before he closes the blinds. He also stirs in taut and sharp suspense. While red herrings might turn off viewers, they emphasize none of the citizens can fully trust each other anymore.
However, it's not just emotions from the gut. FBI agent Meredith Cole (Tayva Patch), who obviously represents the rational scientific side, and Wes engage in intelligent discourse about faith. Throughout the movie, his discussions never glorify Mormonism or belief in God. They are good, honest conversations in the face of evil.
Does it sound complicated? It is when you dissect Brigham City into its components, but it's simple when you watch the film.
I guess this movie company did good.