(PCM) From Scott Cooper, the critically-acclaimed writer and director of Crazy Heart, comes a gripping and gritty drama about family, fate, circumstance, and justice. Russell Baze (Christian Bale) has a rough life: he works a dead-end blue collar job at the local steel mill by day, and cares for his terminally ill father by night. When Russell’s brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) returns home from serving time in Iraq, he gets lured into one of the most ruthless crime rings in the Northeast and mysteriously disappears. The police fail to crack the case, so – with nothing left to lose – Russell takes matters into his own hands, putting his life on the line to seek justice for his brother. The impressive cast of Christian Bale and Woody Harrelson are rounded out by Casey Affleck, Forest Whitaker, Willem Dafoe, Zoe Saldana and Sam Shepard.
This is only Scott Cooper’s second feature film, yet he manages to execute a dark and unrelenting tale, set in a small town outside the Appalachian Mountains. Although the film contains violence and brutality that is sure to make some viewers uncomfortable, at its heart Out of The Furnace is much deeper than your run of the mill revenge tale. Cooper has created a beautiful and thought provoking film that telegraphs underlying themes of poverty and the dying middle class while still leaving the viewer with some feeling of hope.
Christian Bale is captivating in this well grounded intense thriller, delivering a very real and emotional performance of the highest quality. The well established actor once again proves his talent. Bale’s ability to translate emotion and intensity through subtle body language and facial expressions is uncanny. There are many moments in which Bale steals the show, but easily one of the most impressive scenes in the film takes place between Saldana and Bale. Their interactions combined with incredible cinematography create one of the most intense and realistic moments I have ever seen on film.
Casey Affleck is also at the top of his game as Bale’s younger brother Rodney Baze. Affleck plays an emotionally distressed soldier returning home from his fourth tour in Iraq. The realities of war lead Rodney to alcoholism and self abuse as he delves deeper into the gritty world of bare knuckle boxing. These are easily the most violent scenes of the movie but never comes across as senseless of distasteful. The scenes between Affleck, Defoe and Harrelson are heart pounding and always left me at the edge of my seat. The sound effects really sell the brutality, capturing the trebly sound of bone on bone. This along with Composer Dickon Hinchliffe’s string-heavy score really help create the sense of desperation and anxiety, bringing the film to life.
The backdrop for the film focuses on the dilapidated houses of a dying mill-town along with the dark realities of their way of life. The beautiful nature scenes create a yearning for a life that feels just outside their reach. The attention to detail and focus on every day life adds a level of depth and realism to the film that we rarely see in others.
Out of the Furnace is one of the most gorgeous films in recent history. The cinematography is outstanding from the moment the film begins all the way to the very end. Every shot of every sequence feels very thought out and meticulous, and as a result you get an extraordinary film that pulls the viewer in and never lets go. Every scene has its purpose and nothing feels unintentional. This will certainly be a breath of fresh air for all those tired of seeing the derivative cliche stories Hollywood continues to pump out.