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It’s easy to fall for ‘Brampton’s Own’

By Rick Bentley • Oct 16, 2018 at 9:04 PM

It’s unusual outside the Hallmark and Lifetime cable channels to find a movie that embraces romance with intelligence. Too often, feature films start out with a romantic edge but either give way to deep psychological trauma or an overindulgence of sex.

“Brampton’s Own” never falls into those dark areas, but instead looks at love through the perspective of two likable people who should be together but must find a way to overcome a major obstacle. The script by writer/director Michael Doneger examines whether or not it’s possible for true love to be trumped by ambition.

The film looks at what happens when Dustin Kimmel (Alex Russell) faces the harsh reality that after 12 years of playing baseball at the minor league level, his chances of making it to the major leagues have become increasingly more fleeting. After another heartbreak, Kimmel decides to return to his small hometown of Brampton, where he was a sports hero.

He discovers that almost everyone he knows, including his mother (Jean Smart), have moved on with their own lives. His high school sweetheart, Rachel Kinley (Rose McIver), has made some monumental decisions that don’t include him. Kimmel faces a crossroad of whether it is his fate to continue to chase his baseball dream or shift his energies to winning back the heart of the woman he still loves.

The only way this kind of sweet romance can work is if the main players are so likable there’s an investment in what decisions they make. Both Russell and McIver prove up to the challenge, making the characters feel real.

The secret weapon of ‘Brampton’s Own” is McIver, one of the most underrated performers working today. Through her work on “iZombie,” she’s shown a chameleon-like ability to play anything from an old man to a magician. Here, McIver brings a sweetness and strength to Kinley.

At the heart is the romantic dance is the couple, but Doneger layers the film with other relationships, including the connection between a mother and her son. Smart finds a way to play a mom who has a great love for her son while also willing to be the voice of reason. Casting Smart was a smart move by Doneger.

Doneger’s writing gets a little scattered when the story shifts away from the star-crossed lovers. But when he brings the focus back to them, the story works. Doneger doesn’t give into the standard ways of thinking about love and the labors when it is lost. Doneger respects the audience enough to take some big chances.

“Brampton’s Own” is miles away from having the scope of a “Bull Durham,” but it is a refreshing love story in a feature film world where this kind of sweetness isn’t always embraced.

“Brampton’s Own” will be released theatrically in limited markets Friday but also will be available on digital platforms and through local cable providers.

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‘BRAMPTON’S OWN’

2.5 stars

Cast: Alex Russell, Rose McIver, Scott Porter, Jean Smart, Spencer Grammer, John Getz, Carly Hughes.

Director: Michael Doneger

Not Rated (includes mild language).

Running time: 91 minutes.

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Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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