Russell and his younger brother Rodney live in the economically-depressed Rust Belt, and have always dreamed of escaping and finding better lives. But when a cruel twist of fate lands Russell in prison, his brother becomes involved with one of the most violent and ruthless crime rings in the Northeast - a mistake that will cost him everything. Once released, Russell must choose between his own freedom, or risk it all to seek justice for his brother. Written by
In the vein of The Deer Hunter, Out of the Furnace captures the hopelessness of a nation
Scott Cooper wowed us with Crazy Heart, his directorial debut that nabbed Jeff Bridges his long awaited Best Actor Oscar in 2009. Cooper has waited 4 years to bring us something that is very much so in the vein of his last film. Out of the Furnace tells the bleak story of Russell Baze and his determination to discover the truth about his little brother, Rodney, after he goes missing without a trace. The strength of this film relies on the performances, hands down. There is no real plot twist, there is no memorable camera work, this is a film that is built upon the strengths of its lead actors, especially Christian Bale and Woody Harrelson. This is a throwback to 1970 style cinema where story and acting trump anything technically. The story is generic but it never feels quite as stale when you're watching it because no matter how many times we've seen this story, we get lost in Christian Bale's performance. He is a man of many facial expressions and very few words and that really plays to his benefit in this film. It shows that, while Bale can be as goofy as Dickie Ecklund in The Fighter, he can also be as dark and ominous as Russell Baze. We really see that Christian Bale is becoming one of the best actors of this generation and with Out of the Furnace, he solidifies that. While Bale delivers a dark and gritty portrayal of a man with nothing to lose, it is Woody Harrelson that plays Curtis DeGroat, a sick, backwoods, meth- dealing, brute and Harrelson plays him perfectly. Without giving any spoilers away, there are a couple scenes (one of which involves a prostitute) that are so unflinchingly brutal that features DeGroat at his most nefarious. These are the roles that Harrelson relishes in, and this film goes to show that nobody can play a villain quite like Harrelson. He's the guy you love to hate and in Out of the Furnace, I have to say he plays DeGroat with a pitch-perfect tone that it makes you wonder where the line is drawn in his mind. You lose yourself in the scenes with Harrelson because he is just that good at playing a sadistic psychopath with murderous tendencies. The rest of the cast, including Casey Affleck, are outstanding. However, this film showcases Bale and Harrelson as definite Oscar hopefuls and it uses that to its advantage. While we see enough of Affleck, Saldana and Whitaker, the film belongs to Bale and Harrelson. This is a bleak and brutal film with fantastic performances across the board. It is far from the feel good movie of the year, quite the opposite, it is probably the most depressing next to Prisoners, but just because you won't leave the theater with a grin doesn't mean you should skip this.
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