This gritty and somber crime-drama was loaded with great performances and littered with tense, gripping situations.
“OUT OF THE FURNACE” did not really receive a full fighters chance when it was released in early December. Competing with the hordes of bigger budget holiday, and Oscar bait films that garner much larger amounts of promotion. Director Scott Cooper’s (Crazy Heart 2009) grim crime-drama also attempted to take viewers to a place not many would opt for during the Christmas season.
The cast was excellent however, headlined by; Christian Bale (Knight of Cups 2014) and Woody Harrelson (True Detective 2014). With Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy 2014), Willem Dafoe (John Wick 2014), Forest Whitaker (Two Men in Town 2014), Sam Shepard (Cold in July 2014) and Casey Affleck (Interstellar 2014) filling out the main characters.
When a tragic accident lands Russell (Bale) in prison for a handful of years he is finally released. Only to see he has lost the love of his life, and his brother getting into the wrong crowd. Younger brother Rodney (Affleck) is still dealing with his experiences in the war and is finding it hard to adjust to civilian life.
Using his fists to make money, he gets into a bad situation with members of the ruthless crime-rings that operate to the northeast of them. Living in the ‘rust-belt’ of Pennsylvania, family is all you have. So when his little brother turns up missing and the local police don’t act fast enough, Russell will embark into hostile grounds to find him.
This film was the classic example of how even a simple, and rather overused story can still result in a quality film. Given the structure of the plot holds, the characters are given enough depth, and most important, you can draw strong performances from the cast. This one possessed all of these traits in my opinion.
The story was on the generic side, but it was merely a form to showcase some great acting in order to create characters that pull you in. Christian Bale and Casey Affleck were excellent, they both perfectly captured the feel of the region. They felt highly believable as struggling brothers during an economic downtime. Their chemistry was great given they had little screen-time together. But with the quality of the script, their few scenes were more than impactful enough to fuel the motivation for the films main plot.
Forest Whitaker and Zoe Saldana were both strong in their performances, and great additions. For being smaller characters in the film they still delivered compelling amounts of emotion. In particular Saldana who conveyed the needed levels of emotion and sorrow for her role, and was at her best in this project in my opinion.
It wouldn’t be fair not to mention Harrelson who also delivered a captivating performance, providing the film with a solid antagonist. He was nothing but believable in the role. Looking and acting as if he was perfectly tailored for the settings of the script. Often an actor or actresses performance is built on but, not determined by, the quality of the writing. But this script was as excellently written, and the performances that showcase the material perfectly.
The locations were gritty and shot with a great eye to capture the economic-depression of the area. As well as the sense of hopelessness from the population who live without many options for their life’s direction. The script provides a strong foundation to the family dynamic and thus adds reasoning to the character actions in the story. The script captured the social climate of the area very well, and shows how bad things can happen.
How people will move on, and how sometimes the desperation of ones life’s surroundings, can make you feel as if you don’t have a choice in life. Yet you must go on. These are all things that motivate the characters throughout and thus makes you hope for their success. This completely captures your attention to the story-line. As the film progresses the locations seem to get more seedier and even more hostile, and with it comes a more gripping intensity, as you can feel the climax approaching.
Overall this was a dreary film with a very somber tone. But as its intention, the result was all it could have been. The characters had depth without much detail and time spent on developing them. But with solid dialogue, the background without question is received. The cinematography was excellent and brought the most out of the settings and fit the script well. However when it comes down to it, the strongest aspect of this film were the performances of the cast and their clear effort taken in consuming their roles. And for that fact alone, this gritty crime-drama is well worth the time.
Time: 116 min
Rating: R (For strong violence, language and drug content)