Out of the Furnace

Country takes care of itself

Laugh while you can, boys

Christian Bale stars as one of the few guys in Braddock, PA in the thoroughly unpleasant Out of the Furnace, Scott Cooper’s follow-up to his lauded Crazy Heart. But while the town is decidedly blue-collar—cue the Eddie Vedder drone—the tone is a bit more Deliverance, what with a sweaty Woody Harrelson forcing hot dogs down prostitutes’ throats and beating the shit out of whoever wanders by. Bale is Russell, a steel mill worker who accidentally kills a child. While he’s in jail, his younger solider brother Rodney (Casey Affleck, terrific) wracks up a bunch of debt on the Appalachian bare-knuckling boxing circuit (oh that old thing) and ends up mixed up with Harrelson’s dirty Jersey crew. (His mentor-manager is Willem Dafoe, so you can imagine how that goes.) There’s an impressive, lived-in authenticity about the movie, but it’s bogged down by heavy-handed symbolism, rote storytelling and zero female characters of note (sorry Zoe Saldana). Well-made, but why?

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