For all the firey rhetoric that surrounds the topic of gun control in the U.S., Brooklynn, a documentary from filmmaker Charlie Mysak about a couple reeling in aftermath of the accidental shooting of their daughter, is a remarkably restrained film. It’s this restraint that becomes the source of its power—a touching advocacy piece about a charged issue that, thankfully, never feels preachy or forced. Rather, Mysak’s handling of the material is simple, yet heart wrenching. It’s also beautifully shot: the film features stunning, naturally-lit cinematography that complements the profound emotions it explores.
The story is obviously an emotional one. And, Mysak wisely keeps the focus here on a family and its pain. While it’s not without message, the film is noticeably apolitical—there are no blowhard nightly news pundits spewing bile here…no snarky tweet…no quirky viral sensibility to its approach. Rather, as viewers we just sink into the Mohlers’ grief—we watch a family forced to tread water in the wake of tragedy. In grief, blame becomes meaningless because, when it comes down to it, it won’t bring back the life that has been lost.
As Mysak relates to Short of Week:
“I wanted the audience to connect with Darchel and Jacob on a very personal level. News coverage of gun violence only allows the viewers to see a snippet of a person’s life. You’re removed from the consequences of it. But if the audience could empathize with Darchel and Jacob, they could better understand how great the impact is in the long term. Sadly, Brooklynn’s story is not unique. It happens everyday and it shouldn’t.”
You could argue that the film simply presents this profound sense of sadness without ever really exploring it or contextualizing its role in society. But, after reading an exhaustive amount of news headlines about gun violence and its effects…and the action (or lack thereof) taken by lawmakers after each tragedy, maybe the larger context is a mute point. Maybe the only way to instill change is to force us to reckon with this sadness—together—on a personal level. With its stunning craft and lovely musical score, Brooklynn provides a brief sense of catharsis. And, by allowing us to empathize deeply with the Mohlers, hopefully Mysak’s film is a small step that inches us closer towards understanding and progress.