Out Of The Furnace – Review


Destined to become known as “the one Christian Bale should have been nominated for”, it’s fair to say that Out Of The Furnace has had it’s thunder unfairly stolen in recent months by the earlier release (in the UK at least) of American Hustle, with Scott Cooper’s character-driven thriller simply cast by the wayside by critics jumping over each other to heap praise on David O. Russell’s garishly bloated con tale. The funniest part of course is that Out Of The Furnace is an infinitely finer film.


A movie of grit, sweat and people actually interacting on a meaningful level (I know, shock!); Out Of The Furnace sees Bale play blue collar mill-worker Russell Baze, a hard-working everyman whose life of clearing up after his brother’s messes is interrupted by an accident that lands him in prison, before being released years later to find that things have gone from bad to worse in his absence. It’s a film stuffed full of interesting characters, with a cast perfectly picked in every role. It has a developed and well thought-out storyline, requisite scenes of suspense and insight – in short, it’s about as good as American Hustle could have been.


Bale brings his usual immersive performance to the table here, his lead one of absolute investment and hard to turn away from. Aiding him with the right level of subtlety though, is Casey Affleck. Never an uninteresting screen presence, Affleck’s maintained a consistent level of ability for a long time now, with his brilliant work in Out Of The Furnace standing alongside Gone Baby Gone and The Killer Inside Me as the works of an actor just waiting for the role that finally earns him the banner name. With the likes of Willem Dafoe and (a brilliantly psychotic) Woody Harrelson rounding off the cast, it’s a who’s who of brilliantly grisly drama, directed with more than a touch of style by Scott Cooper.


Undoubtedly the film’s biggest triumph though, is it’s very effective and naturalistic style of storytelling. You’ll be frankly amazed at how grounded and natural the flow of the story truly is. Events happen in a style completely befitting of the real world in which the characters live, actual conversations are had, lives are led, events occur without any kind of force or narrative drive behind them, it’s a genuinely brilliant piece of storytelling that never pushes the patience granted by it’s under-two hour runtime. It’s the movie that proves that you can stick Christian Bale into as many costumes and bad comb-overs as you like, but all you really need for a well-paced, well-acted and tight character-driven drama thriller is a man in a t-shirt with a rifle and somebody to find.



Catch Van Connor’s reviews in our Movies section and live on Slam Dunk Cinema every Saturday at 12PM on Sheffield Live! 93.2FM or on the podcast via iTunes.


In it
Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson

Behind it
Scott Cooper

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