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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Cindy Prascik's Review of Out of The Furnace

Dearest Blog, yesterday I used my trip "recovery day" to catch up on the weekend's cinema. On my agenda: the locally-filmed drama Out of the Furnace.

Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't have learned from the trailers.

After four tours of Iraq, a soldier (Casey Affleck) returns home and gets himself in trouble with a brutal criminal (Woody Harrelson), leaving his hard-luck brother (Christian Bale) to try and sort things out.

Trailers for Out of the Furnace were promising, and--with this group of actors--how bad could it be, right? Well...

The cast is, to a person, very very good, but unfortunately a full third of the dialogue is unintelligible. It's like a whole movie full of Ennis Del Mars! I can't say the accent/diction would have been the actors' call. I can say I live near where this movie is set and was filmed, and nobody around here talks that way. It was a very poor choice and almost lost me before the film even hit its halfway point. Christian Bale gets plenty of "I never learned to read!!" Oscar-clip moments, and his co-stars don't come up short in that regard, either. Affleck has some solid moments as the veteran coming off the rails, and Harrelson is especially effective as the film's baddie. The lovely Zoe Saldana holds her own with her decorated co-stars, in a more limited role.

Out of the Furnace conveys hopelessness and despair with every frame. From the dying mill to the family's claustrophobic home to their ugly neighborhood, all of it looks like someplace you'd never want to be, which is exactly where the main characters are...not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. Bale's character might well have been called "Job" for the bad luck he endures, and that seemed very contrived after a point. Much like Gravity before it, the number of things that had to go wrong to get Out of the Furnace where it's going were too unbelievable. The movie also shows its hand pretty early on, leaving little in the way of twists or surprises. The first act is painfully slow and, while the finale picks up a bit, I still lost count of how often I checked the time. In my sparsely-attended weekday screening, a couple people left and didn't come back.

Out of the Furnace clocks in at 116 minutes, which feels like about eight hours. It is rated R for "strong violence, language, and drug content."

Out of the Furnace is a hard film to rate, weighing the huge discrepancy between top-notch performances and the lack of anything else to recommend it. It definitely gets a full point deducted for making me listen to Pearl Jam, a band I despise with the fire of a thousand suns, not just once, but twice!! I suppose we'll say, of a possible nine Weasleys, Out of the Furnace gets four and a half.

Until next time...

I liked you better when you were Batman!


  1. though i didn't have a problem deciphering what they were saying, i do agree that the performances--save for woody harrelson, who i thought was a bit of a caricature--were good. but i found the characters themselves wholly underdeveloped, especially lena. the film would have resonated more had it spent more time developing the characters and their motivations.

    1. "Thanks for reading and commenting! I totally agree on the character development. There was plenty of time to do it, too, but they just went another way. This movie is kind of a poster child for missed opportunities, could have been so much better!" - Cindy P.


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