Out of the Furnace: movie review

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Out of the Furnace: movie review

A full-on plunge into rust-belt desperation, Scott Cooper’s aching economic tragedy is informed at every plot turn by the hulking ruin of Pennsylvania’s Carrie Furnace, often shot from above for extra oomph. Decent guy Russell (Christian Bale) has one of the last remaining jobs at the mill, but a cataclysmic car accident and his incarceration put brother Rodney (Casey Affleck), a scarred Iraqi vet, under too much pressure. Gambling and bare-knuckle brawling draw the latter into the glare of a ferocious meth dealer (Woody Harrelson). As if all of this weren’t sufficiently upsetting, Pearl Jam’s “Release” wails at film’s start and end like a dirge.

After Cooper’s Crazy Heart, it’s gratifying to see a director further commit himself to dead-end career anxieties—even if Out of the Furnace goes beyond the edge of poetic despair into stridency. The movie becomes too finely focused on Old Testament payback, losing a bit of dignity in the process. But subtle performances—especially from Bale and Affleck, both growing meaner in the absence of hope—transcend any structural weaknesses. The bottom drops out early for them, but their endgame is savagely captivating.

Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf

By: Joshua Rothkopf


Release details

Rated: R
Release date: Wednesday December 4 2013
Duration: 116 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Scott Cooper
Screenwriter: Scott Cooper, Brad Ingelsby
Cast: Christian Bale
Zoƫ Saldana
Woody Harrelson
Casey Affleck

Average User Rating

4 / 5

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I was expecting a lot of blood after having been warned about it, but there is hardly any. The violence is very tough and real though and sometimes I was clinging to my seat. I liked it as a portrayal of the violence in our system, and I thought it was beautifully shot. I loved the color theme .

The Man on the Street

Gritty blue-collar rough-stuff that really worked for me. Have seen Inside Llewyn Davis and now Out of the Furnace in close succession thanks to The Time Out Card. Feel in the need of a good comedy, but have enjoyed these glimpses into Americas darkest sub-cultures.