Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Out Of The Furnace (15)

Life can, as many a country and western song will tell you, be tough. Sometimes very tough.

Other times, it's Out Of The Furnace tough. And it doesn't get tougher than that.

And that's just watching it.

If you've missed the Oscar-hype and blurbing, Out Of The Furnace tells the tale of Christian Bale's Russell - a man with much to live for and a younger brother with a few problems.

Unfortunately, Russell finds himself behind bars after a fatal car crash where one final drink may have been a factor.

He returns to the outside world to find his father dead, his girl shacked up with the local cop and his brother - fresh from a final tour of duty in Iraq - engaging in illegal fights just to pay off his debts.

And then things get worse...

Infused with the DNA of Clint Eastwood (although he's not actually anything to do with it), Out Of The Furnace has things to say about life in a small town, soldiers who aren't cared for when they come home and people who have nothing to lose after losing everything.

And it does it slowly, thoughtfully, and with lots of gravelly voices mumbling. So you know it's serious,

On the upside, and it's a huge up, the film looks amazing, and the cast (also featuring Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Willem Dafoe, Sam Shepherd, Zoe Saldana and Forest Whitaker) are all excellent.

The film forces you to confront truths certain parts of America would probably rather ignore - that in certain parts of the country, people are being left with nothing. And soldiers are coming home to less than that.

And it's not subtle in making these points.

Sadly, after an initial flurry and gripping moments and a couple of jumps, Furnace cools to a steady pace - and it's not quick.

That's not to say the film drags - and at two hours, it's not exactly long - but the pace is so consistent that moments of tension and drama kind of wander by before you've spotted their coming.

But that's the only real negative. Apart from the ending.

It's not a light watch - not by any stretch - but it does make you think. To the extent you feel like you've lived it alongside Bale (who should be up for this at the Oscars, not American Hustle).

There are no light touches here - it's dark, heavy, gritty and grinds on relentlessly, with the soundtrack capturing the working man done wrong ethos.

But that's no reason to avoid it.

Well, probably not.

My only major issue was the ending. There's no rousing conclusion, no sense of justice, of wrongs being righted - just that everything is final. Stuff ends. And so does this.

Which is a shame, because after two hours of this, you kinda need a lift. And a drink. But certainly a lift.

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