#FF2018 Donnybrook: Film Review

Film September 22, 2018 Andrew Sale
I love anything that causes me to say "hmmm... how can I make that?!"
Our Rating

Turmoil, violence, and fear fill our tv screens and media threads. Not only does writer/director Tim Sutton NOT shy away from these themes, but he leans into them hard.


This week marks the U.S. premier of this gritty, violent film that tells the story of a man struggling to survive his post-marine life by using the only tool he knows for survival… Fighting. Jarhead Earl (played by ‘Billy Elliot’ star, Jamie Bell) is desperate to find a way out of his families near-poverty level life. With a wife who is struggling with addictions and two young children who have learned to live and be flexible in their unstable environment, he knows that he must do whatever it takes.

Enter the Donnybrook.

don·ny·brook | \ ˈdä-nē-ˌbru̇k:
2. a usually public quarrel or dispute

The ‘Donnybrook’ is best described as sort of a white-trash fight club—hidden away somewhere off the grid and run by men who look like the neo-Nazis and Hell’s Angels—where a high-stakes buy-in earns desperate people a shot at a $100,000 prize. The very definition of Darwinianism, it’s kill or be killed once you step in the ring. Despite mounting adversity and hurdles along the way, one fact remains emblazoned on the stone of this film: Jarhead Earl plans to win or die trying.

© Fantastic Fest

When asked about we he referenced for the climactic brawl, writer/director Tim Sutton said, “I showed the stunt coordinators these Russian gangs that would gather together and go out in the middle of the woods to fight. Where it would be 20-on-20 no holds barred fighting that—as they got close to each other—became one form of just pure destruction.

And so I said,

‘If it looks like this, we’ll win. If it doesn’t look like this, we’ll lose.”

Early in the film we see a secondary story—one of a brother (Frank Grillo) and sister (Margaret Qualley)—unfold that becomes intertwined and fused with Jarhead’s journey.

Bell’s intense approach to the role is matched by every other actor on screen. You are left feeling sad, angry, scared, and frustrated (basically every emotion but happiness and hope). One thing is certain, you find yourself being intensely invested and engaged with these characters and the fate that lies ahead.

Though this may not be a ‘feel good’ movie for the whole family, it is a beautifully brutal story that will likely leave you looking for the shimmers of hope in any situation.

Austin, TX | Alamo Drafthouse (South Lamar) | Fantastic Fest 2018

Andrew Sale

Master of One

Clocking in at over 800 million seconds old (be impressed), Andrew is a Graphic Artist, Communications Director, and lover of Ninja Turtles & Star Wars. He is formally trained in the Fine Arts, with special interest in shade drawing realism. He has spent the last 15 years focusing on Brand messaging and corporate / organizational identity along with the majority of his life honing in on his own personal style. Even though he loves to create his own pieces of art, it's even more fun to collect and support other really incredible artists! If you look around his studio (or home for that matter) you won’t see much of his own stuff!

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