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Out of the Furnace

Movie Details

Out of the Furnace
  • Genre: Drama, Suspense/Thriller
  • Release Date: 2013-12-04 LA
  • Running Time: 116 min.
  • Director: Scott Cooper
  • Cast: Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Forest Whitaker, Willem Dafoe, Zoë Saldana, Sam Shepard
  • Producers: Jennifer D. Killoran, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ryan Kavanaugh, Ridley Scott, Michael Costigan
  • Writers: Scott Cooper, Brad Inglesby
  • Distributor: Relativity Media
  • Official Site: Out of the Furnace Official Site

If the plot of Out of the Furnace were fueling a drive-in movie of the '70s, you might actually want to see it -- it's a basic but sturdy idea that could have some juice. Russell Baze (Christian Bale), a hardened steelworker outside of Pittsburgh, goes to prison on a drunk-driving charge. By the time he's released, he's lost his girlfriend, and his brother has burrowed into a life of trouble. As always, Russell acts responsibly -- until he's pushed to the limit. Scott Cooper's somber drama squeezes precious few droplets of energy out of this. The picture is earnest to a fault, coming off like an exploration of how "the little people" live. You can almost hear the gears humming: Out of the Furnace is calibrated to move us, which isn't the same as drawing us invisibly and quietly into its world. The paradox of overwritten movies like this one is that they often provide good showcases for actors. Cooper previously made Crazy Heart, casting Jeff Bridges as a faded country star -- his performance was a thing of grizzled beauty. Again, Cooper chosen his actors with obvious care: Casey Affleck is the wayward Rodney. Willem Dafoe shows up as a small-town crime kingpin. Woody Harrelson is a tattooed goon from the remote Ramapo Mountains, in the movie's terms a "don't go thar" place if ever there was one. Zoe Saldana has the thankless role of the sweet girlfriend, though she adds layers of subtlety. And Sam Shepard shows up for 10 or so minutes of screentime, which seems to be the norm for him these days. (If only we could see more of him.)

Stephanie Zacharek

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