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Steel City

  • Film
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars
Many traps await novice filmmakers, but writer-director Jun has bypassed most in his absorbing debut, set in a hardscrabble Illinois river town. A mystery weaves throughout this somber drama, from the opening title sequence showing two members of the long-troubled Lee family—alcoholic father Carl (Heard) and son P.J. (Guiry)—arrested at the scene of a fatal traffic collision. We never learn the degree of their guilt, but it hardly matters: Suspense derives from watching the calamity’s aftermath.

Since Dad abandoned them as kids, booze, rage and denial have shaped underachiever P.J. and his brother Ben (Crawford), a steel worker who cheats on his wife with a slatternly bartender. Ben blames his miseries on others, not realizing that in his passive-aggressive way, he too is  a deserter. P.J.’s angelic looks belie  a quick temper, which escalates as his finances decline—so much so that his developing romance with a supportive coworker (Ferrera)  doesn’t quite convince.

As effectively as Heard, Guiry and Crawford probe family dysfunction, the most unsettling current is generated by veteran character actor Barry as Uncle Vic. Often cast in urbane roles, Barry is nearly unrecognizable as the enigmatic, gruff, tattooed ex-Marine who arrives to rescue the Lees, but not without a price. 

Written by Andrea Gronvall

Release Details

  • Release date:Friday 15 June 2007
  • Duration:95 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Brian Jun
  • Cast:
    • Thomas Guiry
    • John Heard
    • Raymond J. Barry
    • America Ferrera
    • Clayne Crawford
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