Brampton’s Own tells the story of frustrated baseball player Dustin Kimmel (Alex Russell) who, after 12 years of fighting the battles of baseball’s minor league system, decides to retire from the sport and return to his small hometown where he was once a celebrated athlete. However, upon his return, he quickly discovers that much has changed since he’s last been home as his ex-girlfriend Rachel (Rose McIver) and almost all of his friends have moved on with their lives. Having no backup plan for his life without baseball, Dustin’s journey forces him to confront his past in a way that may change his future.
At its heart, Brampton’s Own grapples with what drives us… and what distracts us. Having plugged away in baseball’s minor league system for over a decade, Kimmel is absolutely determined to get called up to the majors. He believes he has worked harder and been more committed than everyone else on the team yet continues to come up short of management’s expectations. Upon returning home, his mother and ex-girlfriend yearn for him to move on with his life but he simply cannot let go of his hope of making it to the ‘big club’. In Kimmel, there is a tension between dreaming and denial that extends from the depths of his soul. As a result, Kimmel’s character seems both hopeful and tragic at the same time. We root for his success but feel like he remains the proverbial donkey with the carrot just out of reach.
There is something both charming and disturbing about Dustin Kimmel in Brampton’s Own. His goals are admirable—after all, who doesn’t pull for the underdog? —but there seems to be something lacking. He’s just not good enough. As a result, one wonders why he is so bent on making it to the majors. Is it for the fame? To prove that he’s somehow better than those back home? Maybe it’s just to prove them wrong about him? In any case, there is something missing from Kimmel’s soul that needs to be filled by getting called up to the majors. In this way, we wish that he would take pause and recognize the value of the things that are in front of him: love, family, friends. Yet he continues to grind and lean into his dreams, not out of hope but, arguably, out of hopelessness.
Still, at the same time, there seems a certain cruelty about the way others view his lack of success. ‘You said you’d only do this until you’re thirty,’ they remind him. ‘Time to come home and start your life.’ While comments like these could seem like an invitation to rejoin something he may have lost, they carry the sting of disappointment. As such, the people of Brampton seem to be calling him to settle for less than he can be, as opposed to encouraging him when he’s weary. (This may be best exemplified through Rachel who has settled in almost every area of her life, whether it be her career or romantic relationships.) Their lack of grace creates a space where Kimmel seems to be driven to fill that gaping hole in his soul, as opposed to experiencing the type of unconditional acceptance that he so desires.
In many ways, Brampton’s Own wants you to believe that it’s a romantic comedy and it almost has all the pieces in place. McIver provides an earnest and charming performance as the relationally-confused Rachel while Russell is convincing as the frustrated mess that is Dustin Kimmel. However, by the end, the film surprises through its interest in exploring the darker side of what drives us to succeed.
Brampton’s Own is available in theatres in select markets and on demand on Friday, October 19th, 2018.