VOD film review: Out of the Furnace
Harrelson sneer count8
Ruby | On 04, Jun 2014
Director: Scott Cooper
Cast: Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Zoe Saldana, Woody Harrelson, Willem Dafoe, Forest Whitaker
Watch Out of the Furnace online in the UK: Amazon Prime / TalkTalk TV / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play
With a fading Pennsylvanian steel town as the backdrop, two brothers are fighting hard to stay the course; Rodney Baze (Affleck), a keen but unsuccessful gambler who endures two tours of Iraq and comes back a different kid, ready to pay off his debts; and his older brother, Russell (Bale), who chooses to do what his dying father has done before him and work at the local steel mill. He’s a decent man, but ends up losing everything after a drink-drive accident.
The sheer weight of Out of the Furnace’s story requires the lightest of touches, which Bale and Affleck provide superbly. Bale, in particular, plays his scenes constantly holding back the emotion his character is on the brink of. One scene with Saldana, who plays his love interest Lena, is so brilliant, you forget that you aren’t watching a real couple having the hardest of conversations.
Woody Harrelson provides strong support as Harlan DeGroat, a nasty piece of work and a hillbilly crime boss from the next county over, who has dealings with bookie and bar owner John Petty (Dafoe). If there was ever an actor to play a gun-toting drug dealer, it is Harrelson. Both men deliver in their respective roles, as does Forest Whitaker as the local police chief.
Rodney, it turns out, needs to pay off his debts to Petty, and, in doing so, enters a murky world of bare-knuckle fighting. Despite his brother’s protestations, he continues to pay off his debts in this way, leading to an inevitable one-last-fight moment.
Out of the Furnace delivers a huge nod to The Deer Hunter, even having its own hunting scene, but it is built on a solid script as well as powerful performances. Scott Cooper directs it as more a drama than a thriller, but be patient, if only to witness Bale’s knockout performance.