11 user 54 critic

Putty Hill (2010)

Unrated | | Drama | 18 February 2011 (USA)
2:14 | Trailer
A young man's untimely death unites a fractured family and their community through shared memory and loss.


(story), (story) | 1 more credit »
1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

A runaway seeks refuge with her aunt and uncle in Baltimore and finds their marriage ending and her cousin in crisis. In the days that follow, the family struggles to let go of the past while searching for new things to hold onto.

Director: Matthew Porterfield
Stars: Deragh Campbell, Hannah Gross, Ned Oldham
Hamilton (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

Chronicles two summer days in the life of a young recent family: Lena, 17, and Joe, 20, two recent and accidental parents residing in a diverse suburban neighborhood in northeast Baltimore City.

Director: Matthew Porterfield
Stars: Christopher H. Myers, Stephanie Vizzi, Sarah Seipp-Williams
Short | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.7/10 X  

A character study as well as a meditation on communication, creativity, and physical space, TAKE WHAT YOU CAN CARRY is a picture of a young woman seen through the interiors she occupies and... See full summary »

Director: Matthew Porterfield
Stars: Hannah Gross, Jean-Christophe Folly, Angela Schanelec
Septien (2011)
Comedy | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

A reclusive sports hustler returns home to his family farm after years of absence to reunite with his two eccentric, unhinged and emotionally damaged brothers.

Director: Michael Tully
Stars: Michael Tully, Robert Longstreet, Onur Tukel
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  

RETT: There is Hope was made with an extraordinary group of volunteers to help raise funds and awareness for the Rett Syndrome community. The story behind Rett Syndrome is complicated. It ... See full summary »

Director: Jason Rem
Stars: Mady Bergman, Adrian Bird, Alex Coenraads
Buzzard (2014)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Paranoia forces small-time scam artist Marty to flee his hometown and hide out in a dangerous Detroit. With nothing but a pocket full of bogus checks, his Power Glove, and a bad temper, the horror metal slacker lashes out.

Director: Joel Potrykus
Stars: Joshua Burge, Joel Potrykus, Teri Ann Nelson
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A group of children, in a depressed small town, band together to cover up a tragic mistake one summer.

Director: David Gordon Green
Stars: Candace Evanofski, Donald Holden, Damian Jewan Lee
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A melancholy man becomes a nanny to prove to his ex-girlfriend that he's ready to have children.

Director: Steve Collins
Stars: John Merriman, Courtney Davis, Macon Blair
In Our Nature (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

A scheduling mistake leads to an estranged father and son sharing a vacation home with their respective girlfriends.

Director: Brian Savelson
Stars: Zach Gilford, Jena Malone, John Slattery
Gerry (2002)
Adventure | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A friendship between two young men is tested when they go for a hike in a desert and forget to bring any water or food with them.

Director: Gus Van Sant
Stars: Casey Affleck, Matt Damon
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Two women who grew up together discover they have drifted apart when they retreat to a lake house together.

Director: Alex Ross Perry
Stars: Elisabeth Moss, Katherine Waterston, Patrick Fugit
Director: Matthew Porterfield
Stars: McCaul Lombardi


Credited cast:
Cody Ray ...
Dustin Ray
James Siebor Jr.
Walker Teiser ...


A young man's untimely death unites a fractured family and their community through shared memory and loss.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis






Official Sites:



Release Date:

18 February 2011 (USA)  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$5,477 (USA) (18 February 2011)


$48,132 (USA) (24 June 2011)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Filmed in twelve days. See more »


Featured in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #2.17 (2011) See more »


Captain Hume's Galliard
Written by Tobias Hume
Performed by Jordi Savall
Courtesy of Son Jade, S.L. Produccions Audiovisuals
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

A Worthy and Interesting Failure .. Here's Why, Exactly
27 January 2013 | by (Watertown, Mass.) – See all my reviews

A young man dies of an overdose. The day before the funeral, someone unknown (not necessarily a documentary filmmaker) asks his family members and friends about him, and about their lives, and we see small pieces of their everyday activities. That's actually, I think, a terrific idea for a micro-budget indie film.

And in fact I was prepared to love this movie. I have no problem with slow and/or "plotless" movies (see my most-useful review here of Greenberg) and I've adored many art-house movies with relatively low IMDb ratings. Even more promisingly, the film's two greatest champions have been Roger Ebert (only **** review at Metacritic) and Andrew O'Hehir of Salon (author of the DVD booklet essay)--and I think they're unquestionably the two best critics in America.

So what went wrong? Why did I give this movie a C+ grade and a 4/10 (equivalent to a 5 or 6 for most other graders, I think)? It's the cognitive psychology of the storytelling (yes, I'm the guy who has been threatening to start a blog called "This is Your Brain at the Movies").

Human brains are storytelling machines. We edit and re-cut our memories to make better stories than the actual reality. I'm sure that most people reading this above a certain age can think of a story they've told about themselves that they later discovered (by reading an old letter or journal entry, etc.) wasn't quite right or true, that had been turned into a *better, more dramatic story* by their brain.

Narratives in fiction have traditionally been these kinds of stories (call them Stories with a capital S). A relatively recent and, I think, tremendously admirable goal of cutting-edge narrative has been to get past Stories and give us true stories (with a small s) -- to show events as they really happen in life, with all their actual messiness and lack of cohesion. And note that while real life may not have capital-S Stories, it still has small-s stories. There are still events that cause other events. They just form a less satisfying pattern than we remember.

The trouble with Putty Hill is that it is so insistent on avoiding Story that it actually goes out of its way to avoid (small-s) story, too. It is, by turns, unrealistic and manipulative in avoiding story.

One of the points director Porterfield wants to make about the deceased Cory is that he's essentially a cipher that no one knew well. But no one interviewed about him talks about him as real people would talk about someone they knew, no matter how remotely. And that's because we remember people most vividly not by generalities, but by *anecdote*. There isn't a single anecdote told about Cory. In fact, the only information we get about him beyond his drug problem comes from fellow skateboarder Cody, who tells us that Cory was terrific ("insane"), but in any kind of real life, this assertion would be followed by "there was this one time where Cory ...". Because the generality is derived from specific incident, from anecdote. Fifty years from now, it's possible (though still unlikely) that Cody may remember only that he thought Cory was "insane" without being able to remember the stunt that made him think so, but two or three years later? No way.

The film is also manipulative in its selection of information. If you've interviewed the brother of one of (if I got this straight) Cory's cousin's friends, who admits to barely knowing Cory, you really have to interview Cory's mother. There's a point in the film where this is obviously coming next, but then it doesn't happen. (Since all these interviews were apparently improvised, my guess is that it was shot, but then was decreed to be not worthy of inclusion. If so, Porterfield should have realized this during the shoot, and asked for another take.)

I would have loved a movie where everyone who knew Cory told their favorite anecdote about him, and the anecdotes *failed to congeal as expected, and failed to reveal anything about him.* You would have created an expectation in the viewer that these anecdotes would at least paint a coherent portrait, and might even reveal a secret, discernible only to us who had heard them all. Defying that expectation would have made a terrific point about the difference between Story and mere story, would have shown that many lost souls remain unknowable no matter how much we learn about them. (And if you've read "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" and/or "Seymour: An Introduction," you know exactly what I'm talking about.) We would have gradually realized that the secret being revealed to us about Cory was that there was, sadly, no secret to reveal. But making Cory unknowable by not providing us with a realistic amount of information about him is, to me, profoundly unsatisfying.

(I'm both a psych major and a bit of a theorist about narrative, so I find it credible that all this might strike me as grossly unrealistic while not striking the likes of Ebert and O'Hehir that way. But based on the IMDb rating distribution, I think there are many other viewers who liked many of the art-house elements, but had the same or similar problem, even if they couldn't put their finger on what exactly was missing.)

It seems likely that this movie will remain a favorite of a small minority of smart viewers but remain unsatisfying to the vast majority, everyone, that is, who demands at least small-s story from a film that purports to be naturalistic. In the meantime, I'll be watching Porterfield, because he's a real talent. He just needs a better understanding of story, and a better grasp of his own stylistic strengths (see my message board post on that).

2 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
why no love? GWilliamLocke
interview with director Porterfield wheezedawg-1
english subtitles ? fulfordvilla
Discuss Putty Hill (2010) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: