Out of the Furnace
Director Scott Cooper presents us with a gripping tale of life and desperation in the Rust Belt region of America. Russell Baze (Christian Bale) works a dead-end job at a local steel mill whilst acting as a rock to his family, maintaining a healthy relationship with girlfriend Lena (Zoe Saldana), looking after his dying father and keeping his younger brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) in check. However, unfortunate circumstances lead to Russell’s imprisonment, whilst at home things fall apart with his brother being sent to fight the war in Iraq.
Affleck does a fantastic job in expressing the fears and angst of a young man who is desperate to prove to his family that he can fight his own battles. The post-war change in the character reveals the anxieties and treatment of soldiers returning to America after the war.
Bale is haunting with his true-to-life portrayal of an honest hardworking man, who towards the end of the film battles with his own understanding of justice and doing the right thing. This is a modest man who gives his all but is beaten down by corruption and an unjust social system. When Russell’s brother goes missing and is found dead he must decide whether he continues down an almost pathetic path to an uncertain future or whether he should take matters into his own hands. Hearts will pound as the audience anxiously awaits Russell’s decision at his final confrontation.
The supporting cast do an excellent job, including Woody Harrison, Forest Whitaker, and William Dafoe. Though they have smaller roles in the film, the acting is equally intense. Overall this is very much a blue-collar, testosterone-filled film, which could have contrasted even better with Zoe Saldana’s character Len, were it to be expanded.
The film does not attempt to make a big statement or an obvious political point. Instead it focuses on the smaller details of complex emotions and an uneasiness that throughout the film leaves the audience questioning the main character’s actions. Out of the Furnace will definitely stand out amongst the more feel good/family film releases.
Out of the Furnace is released nationwide on 31st January 2014.
Watch the trailer for Out of the Furnace here: