I was intrigued about Out of the Furnace having recently seen Christian Bale’s top performance in American Hustle, and loving Cassey Affleck from Ain’t Them Bodies Saints last year. I wasn’t quite prepared for what I witnessed though, especially as the plan was to go to the cinema, have a meal and go out for drinks with the girls – turned out to be a bit of a mood killer…
Bale and Affleck play brothers Russell and Rodney Baze, both struggling to lead simple lives after experiencing quite different but none the less traumatic periods. The younger of the two, Rodney, get’s himself mixed up with all round bad guy Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson) and when he mysteriously goes missing the seemingly quiet Russell takes matters into his own hands.
I would like to start with exclaiming how bloody impressed I was with the acting in this film. Oh my goodness, Bale was breath taking, despite what I have read I thought the chemistry between him and Affleck was really authentic. Nailed the awkward yet emotional brotherly love for sure. He had me absolutely hooked on his character from start to end, plus I kept thinking … I need to meet a man like that! (I am cringing at myself for admitting to this fact).
Harrelson plays an excellent villain as always, he is so menacing. I think they could have given him contacts though, those baby blues can distract from the crazy sometimes. None-the-less a riveting performance with a character that sets the tone of the film in the very first scene. Some intense stuff right there.
Sam Shepard and Willem Dafoe deserve a mention for playing the much needed slightly less intense characters, the trusty Uncle (Shepard) and ‘friend’ (Dafoe). Although I think they could have been used a little more in the third act.
A surprise for me was that I enjoyed Forest Whitaker in this film! I actually believed in his character for a change and found him compelling, I couldn’t get my head around his connection with Zoe Saldana’s character though. But a solid, emotional performance from Saldana too.
The pace of the film was good, I was on the edge of my seat totally engaged in the relationships and spiralling story line. Up until about the time Russell start seeking his revenge… it does unfortunately fall a little flat. This was probably heightened by the fact I was desperate for the loo and kept thinking something was going to happen, but then it didn’t… When I arrived back from the loo to discover nothing new had happened I could sit and enjoy the movie again – what followed was an intense and exciting finale which I thought was extremely well done and incredibly touching.
Despite it’s little flaws in pacing and perhaps predictable characters, I was completely sucked in and that is what I look for in a film. The raw emotion that oozed out of the leads was intense, and I was taken on the journey as well.
My POV then, an emotional but fantastic film worthy of more than 7/10 on IMDB I might add. Looking forward to more of Scott Cooper’s direction – and must remember to try Crazy Heart!