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Winter in hard-scrabble upstate New York. Irene is working class, a mother of two boys, and a user of cocaine. She gets into trouble and checks into a rehab program where she meets Bob, a nurse. After she goes home to her husband and returns to her job as a grocery checker, she stays in touch with Bob and the intimations of an affair begin. By now, she's changed jobs, cleaning houses with her friend Lucy. The temptations of drugs are close at hand. Can she handle sobriety? What about Bob? Written by
A stark, compelling look at drug addiction that refuses to glamorize the subject
I had the opportunity to see this film again at the Florida Film Festival (after having seen it screened at Sundance), and I have to say even though I was watching the film for a 2nd time, I still found myself completely engaged in the narrative. The film was awarded the Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative Feature. At times, I nearly forgot that I was watching a film. Vera Farmiga gives a powerful and evocative performance, which must rank among the best in her career. Down to the Bone seems rooted in the cinematic schools of Cinema Verite and Neo-Realism, and the Director, Debra Granik, obviously seems devoted to the idea of making a film without the usual Hollywood bells and whistles. So, the film depicts the bleakness of drug addiction, but without sensationalizing it with the usual tropes: Overdoses, guns, car chases, etc...
The end of the film is left ambiguous, which forces the filmviewer to forego the simplicities of a stock ending; the audience is given the ability to draw their own conclusions. Your choice--does the film have a happy ending or not? Of course, this is not too dissimilar to the dilemmas that people face in real life.
This film is certainly not for everyone. It demands the focus and attention of the filmgoer. As such, Down to the Bone is geared more to the committed and sophisticated cinema enthusiast. The film features a minimalist soundtrack, from which it is difficult to draw the obvious emotive clues. The cinematography is original, as the viewer is exposed to a seemingly endless palette of grays. However, it is not an "easy" film to watch--there is no "eye candy" for the viewer.
Debra Granik's Feature Film Directoral debut shows tremendous promise, and I look forward to her future projects. I rate this film as very good: a 9 out of 10. Frankly, I'm at a loss in understanding why a dozen of IMDB users have rated this film just as a "2". Can the Film Juries at Sundance and Florida be so off the mark? I guess that the cliche is true: there really is no accounting for taste!
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