Out of the Furnace Screen 10 articles

Out of the Furnace


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  • The picture is earnest to a fault, coming off like an exploration of how "the little people" live, so carefully written that it veritably trumpets how remote it is from the grittiness of its subject matter. You can almost hear the gears humming: Out of the Furnace is calibrated to move us, which isn't the same as drawing us invisibly and quietly into its world.

  • The revenge portion of the film takes up maybe the last half-hour, and plays out with a haphazard literal-mindedness, and the rest seems torn between two modes, the grimy yet intimate art-house drama and the star-flattering martyr tale, about the suffering of a strong, silent man who's more sinned against than sinning. Performances as strong as the ones the cast gives here belong in a more streamlined, deeper, less cluttered film.

  • Cooper, a dedicated chronicler of dead-end lives, has a feel for this kind of colorfully colorless environment. But all that smoke and grime can’t disguise the archetypal thinness of his characterizations. He’s dressed down a clichéd genre exercise to look like a bleeding-heart vision of economic despair.

  • There is nothing immediately objectionable about this premise. But Cooper begins flashing images of Barack Obama's nomination and election. He offers the embarrassing juxtaposition of Rodney's bloodied face with the image of dead deer. He either quotes from or directly echoes other movies — The Deer Hunter, Heat. What is he trying to get at? Where is he trying to go?

  • It’s Christian Bale’s career-best central turn that proves the film’s trump card... his Russell Baze here... becomes a masterclass in internalised emotional subtleties... [But] there’s finally little escaping Out of the Furnace’s genre trappings, especially as it moves into its second hour. Cooper works hard to inject muscularity into proceedings, but a drive-in staged opening aside, much of its testosterone-fuelled brutality feels overcooked.

  • Perhaps because he was originally an actor himself, Cooper seems to make actors feel safe and willing to expose themselves in ways they ordinarily might not, and time and again he takes scenes to places of unexpected emotional power... But unlike many actor-directors, Cooper is an equally skilled visual storyteller... and always fostering a vivid sense of a place cut off from time and the world.

  • No longer playing second fiddle to a show-stealer like Jeff Bridges, the Oscar-winning star of his debut feature, Crazy Heart, director Scott Cooper is given ample room to prove his filmmaking mettle with this rough-hewn follow-up, a thriller whose strategic, exposition-dodging design proceeds with near-total effortlessness. A canny visual storyteller, Cooper lets his imagery do the talking...

  • After Cooper’s Crazy Heart, it’s gratifying to see a director further commit himself to dead-end career anxieties—even if Out of the Furnace goes beyond the edge of poetic despair into stridency. The movie becomes too finely focused on Old Testament payback, losing a bit of dignity in the process. But subtle performances—especially from Bale and Affleck, both growing meaner in the absence of hope—transcend any structural weaknesses.

  • [Cooper] borrows plenty from other movies (“The Deer Hunter,” “Warrior”), but unlike the postmodern pasticheur who gets off on his own clever allusions, he steals without irony or self-protecting quotation marks. As a consequence, much as he did with his directorial debut, “Crazy Heart,” he brings an old-fashioned conviction to the material. The goods may be canned, but the sincerity with which he delivers them can make them hard to resist.

  • One of Cooper’s strengths as a director and writer is a nuanced feel for male behavior, and with such a strong and varied cast of actors at his disposal, the film almost comes across as a study in tough guys together.

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