6.7/10
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28 user 26 critic

Down to the Bone (2004)

A woman stuck in a stale marriage struggles to raise her children and manage her secret drug habit. But when winter comes to her small town, her balancing act begins to come crashing down.

Director:

Debra Granik

Writers:

Jean-Michel Dissard (additional writer), Debra Granik | 5 more credits »

On Disc

at Amazon

7 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Vera Farmiga ... Irene
Hugh Dillon ... Bob
Clint Jordan ... Steve
Caridad 'La Bruja' De La Luz ... Lucy (as Caridad De La Luz)
Jasper Daniels ... Ben (as Jasper Moon Daniels)
Taylor Foxhall Taylor Foxhall ... Jason
Giles Penderghast Giles Penderghast ... Pet Store Clerk
Terry McKenna Terry McKenna ... Gene
Richard Lieske Richard Lieske ... Richard
Hector Vasquez Hector Vasquez ... Hector
Joel Saeks Joel Saeks ... Lars
Lori Berryman Lori Berryman ... Acupuncture Therapist
Walt Bolde Walt Bolde ... Walt
Edward Crawford ... Kevin
Gia Mitchell Gia Mitchell ... April
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Storyline

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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Old Habits Die Hard

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive drug content, language and some sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 March 2005 (Austria) See more »

Also Known As:

Az do kosci See more »

Filming Locations:

Bearsville, New York, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$7,352, 27 November 2005

Gross USA:

$19,723, 8 December 2005
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Extension of Sundance Film Festival Award Winning Short SNAKEFEED. See more »

Goofs

Anytime the aquarium and snake are shown with the actors, it has wood chips in it. Whenever the snake is fed, it only has newspapers and rocks in it. See more »

Connections

Remake of Snake Feed (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

Point Of Disgust
Written and Performed by Low
Courtesy of Kranky Records
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Documentary-Feeling Close-up of a Mother's Addiction
5 December 2005 | by noraleeSee all my reviews

"Down to the Bone" follows in the tradition of classic addiction and rehab movies (such as "Clean and Sober"), but it doesn't stoop to any clichés.

The key to the story's credibility is the director's documentary style, the use of authentic, working class locales in Upstate New York, and terrific acting.

Debut director Debra Granik and co-writer Richard Lieske don't follow the typical trajectory of horrific addiction experiences ("Lost Weekend," "Leaving Las Vegas," "Requiem for a Dream," etc.), though there's some frightening close calls, but quietly build an accretion of how a drug habit affects a mother and her family in her daily life as a cashier and living in a house her ne'er do well husband never finishes renovating. With no explication or back story, "Irene"s life plays out for us completely through what we see in grainy digital video and the characters' inarticulate interactions.

Rehab is only the half-way point in a continuing struggle (and we have seen the 12-steps many times but perhaps not this drearily matter-of-factly) and the film is brilliant at demonstrating just how difficult it is to quit when everywhere there are not only triggers for physical need but how those around her benefited in some way from her behavior when she was high and keep encouraging her to indulge. Lapsing is cynically referred to as "the 13th step." None of these insights are hammered home redundantly as we see her frustrations and resiliency.

I've noted Vera Farmiga in various TV series, but here she reveals guts, strength and range below her fragile beauty as she very believably, step by step, gives "Irene" backbone. Her chemistry with a seductively magnetic Hugh Dillon is terrific as their relationship goes from attraction to risk to independence.

Though at one point New York City is a bit tritely used as a tempting source for drugs, the primary settings in snowy Kingston and Ulster County, with its downscale stores, weatherbeaten houses, high unemployment and desolate highway scapes set the characters in a very believable, multi-racial setting.

There is a bit of heavy-handed symbolism with a pet snake, but the young children are terrifically natural, especially in their whiney-ness and physical reactions.

The soundtrack unobtrusively includes an interesting selection of indie rock, including by Dillon's band.


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