Winter in Wartime director Martin Koolhoven’s latest film — his first English-language feature, and his first release altogether since the aforementioned 2008 film about a teenager in the Dutch Resistance against Nazi Occupation — now has a trailer. Starring Dakota Fanning, Guy Pearce, the Red Woman a.k.a. Melisandre a.k.a. Carice van Houten, the “bastard son” of Eddard Stark a.k.a. Jon Snow a.k.a. Kit Harington, and a few actors who aren’t on Game of Thrones, the Western horror film follows Fanning’s character, a mute woman who becomes a fugitive after being wrongly accused of a crime, fighting for her and her daughter’s survival in the American West — set against a sadistic reverend played by Guy Pearce. Like a certain other Guy Pearce movie, the film is told in backwards chronology.
Initially, Mia Wasikowska and Robert Pattinson were going to play the roles Dakota Fanning and Kit Harington ultimately took. Early reviews of the film have been mixed, following its screening at the Venice International Film Festival and at the Toronto International Film Festival. For The Playlist, Jessica Kiang wrote, “Dutch director Martin Koolhoven’s expansive, bloody, and beautifully shot Brimstone plots a different course, earning its feminist credentials by favoring the perspective of a woman (an excellent Dakota Fanning) whose strength lies not in how she challenges or co-opts male hegemony, but in how she negotiates it, and manages to survive its most gruesomely punishing excesses.”
Vanity Fair, in an otherwise positive review, was a bit less convinced about the film’s handling of sexual violence, noting that Brimstone “is about violence toward women, sexual and otherwise, and positions itself, after a lot of awful stuff, as something of an empowerment narrative” — again, demanding the question of so-called empowerment narratives that simultaneously offer explicit, male-gaze-y approaches to sexual violence (Game of Thrones is really infiltrating this film). Meanwhile, Tommaso Tocci, writing for The Film Stage, wrote, “Director Martin Koolhoven shows the heaviest of hands in approaching the story of Liz,” and argued any political weight the film might have is “diminished by various self-satisfied, cheap-thrills choices that feel badly out of place.”
Watch the trailer: