'Donnybrook' Premieres Friday At Toronto Film Festival

Sep 6, 2018

Donnybrook, the epic bare-knuckle fight film shot in Cincinnati last October, premieres Friday Sept. 7 at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Frank Grillo, who starred in Reprisal with Bruce Willis here last summer, returned to start shooting Donnybrook on Oct. 23, 2017 with director Tim Sutton (Dark Night, Memphis, Pavilion).

The movie is based on Frank Bill's Donnybrook novel set in southern Indiana about two men going to "a legendary backwoods bare knuckle brawl where the winner gets $100,000," according to Variety. When Film Cincinnati announced the production last year,  it called the film "a wild, backwoods version of Fight Club meets No Country For Old Men."

"Donnybrook" was adapted from Frank Bill's 2013 novel of the same name.
Credit Courtesy Rumble FIlms

In addition to Grillo, stars include Jamie Bell (Fantastic Four, Billy Elliot, AMC's Turn); James Badge Dale (Iron Man 3, Only The Brave, The Departed); Margaret Qualley (Death Note, The Nice Guys, The Leftovers) and Cincinnati native Kevin Crowley (Carol, Army Wives, Goat, Push, Nevada).

Frank Grillon on NBC's "Today" show on Oct. 25, 2017.
Credit Courtesy NBC

Rhyan Hanavan, 9, a fourth-grader at St. John XXIII Elementary School in Middletown, also appears in Donnybrook as Bell's daughter, according to the Butler County Journal-News.

Scenes were filmed in Middletown and Butler County.

The film festival website says writer-director Sutton "captures an America ignored by many Americans. His is not a country of tree-lined streets, white picket fences, and family barbeques, but one of clandestine drug deals, shady motel rooms, alcohol-fueled brawls, and abandoned dreams."

Here's the TIFF's plot description:

Earl (Jamie Bell) and Angus (Frank Grillo) both inhabit society's fringes. Their similarity stops there. "Jarhead Earl" is a veteran, husband, and father of two. His cancer-stricken wife needs expensive treatment, leading him to commit crimes that go against his nature. "Chainsaw Angus," on the other hand, runs a local meth ring with his sister, Delia (Margaret Qualley). Having long suffered his emotional and physical beatings, she is looking for any way out. With the well-intentioned — if a little corrupt and a lot drunk — local sheriff (James Badge Dale) hot on their tails, the two men are destined to meet at the Donnybrook, where the last man standing in a bare-knuckle cage fight takes home a cash prize of $100,000. Though faced with a succession of miserable choices, Earl fights bravely for his family's future. Having left a trail of death and destruction in his wake, Angus fights to quench an unspecified thirst for revenge.

With his brutal and unrelenting style, Sutton holds nothing back and neither do his actors: Bell, Grillo, and Qualley all deliver stunning, raw performances. At once uncomfortably gritty and palpably polished, Donnybrook explores an America that's struggling to overcome its demons, and those within it struggling to claw their way back.