Dir. Scott Cooper
Starring: Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson,
Willem Dafoe, Sam Shepard, Zoe Saldana, Forest Whitaker
Review By Greg Klymkiw
When a movie opens with Woody Harrelson at a drive-in theatre forcibly shoving a wiener down his date's throat and then, after smashing her face repeatedly against the dashboard he barrels out of the vehicle to savagely beat a man who tries to come to the woman's rescue, you know beyond a shadow of any doubt where you are.
It has another name in America - it's the Rust Belt, the grey, dirty and dreary cities and towns of Pennsylvania that belch endless clouds of poison smoke into the sky from the steel factories providing the lion's share of employment to the dazed citizenry unlucky enough to live there. Save for working in the mills that slowly kill you and/or signing up for military duty in the Middle East, the only other real employment is in the dark underworld that permeates the tattered fabric of this septic tank of despair.
There are plenty of bars and off-track betting parlours to numb the pain of living.
And there's violence. Plenty of it.
The movie is finally unrelenting in painting a portrait of a grimy world not unlike the real Old West, where senseless acts of violence can be met with vengeance, but nothing about the retribution is sweet.
Director Cooper delivers a picture that'll be hard for audiences to face, but the end result will haunt them long after the lights comes up and strangely, they'll feel richer for having seen this journey rather than the myriad of empty extravaganzas littering the movie screens. Though the movie is saddled with an unfortunate love-interest and subplot involving Zoe Saldana, it survives this ho-hum intrusion upon a world that otherwise feels intrinsically male - where the traditional roles applied to men continue to permeate a savage, desperate existence.
"Out of the Furnace" is in a surprisingly wider release (via Relativity Media/VVS Films) than one would expect for a film of uncompromising darkness. Given how gorgeously shot on actual 35mm film stock it is by ace cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi, it is definitely worth seeing on a big screen.