Out of the Furnace Blu-ray Review
There are literally hundreds of films about the family dynamic, what happens inside a family can be as complex and gut-wrenching as the best thriller or drama. Part of the reason is universality, part of the human condition is the relationships we have with each other and with our families. They mold us into who we become, they shape the way we look at the world; they build us up and sometimes they tear us down. OUT OF THE FURNACE is a new movie to delve into the depths of the common experience of family while adding in a few twists facing many families today.
OUT OF THE FURNACE is the story of a small town family, specifically Rodney and Russell Baze (played by Casey Affleck and Christian Bale, respectively). Russell works in the mill like his father (Rodney Sr.) while Rodney joined the army and came back a changed man. Russell goes to jail for a few years after a drunk driving accident results in the fatality of a young child and while he is inside his only contact with the outside world is through his brother, even as his father (who has been very sick) dies and his girlfriend leaves him. Not exactly an uplifting tale.
When released from prison, Russell goes to live in his father’s home with his brother. Here he learns that Rodney has been gambling and getting further into debt with the towns local mobster/loan shark, John Petty (Willem Dafoe). Petty seems to care for the Baze brothers, though it is a pretty tenuous relationship… but when Rodney gets too deep they have to turn to the much more dangerous Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson). The relationship with DeGroat sets into motion a resolution telegraphed through the entire film but there is still a little bit of satisfaction as it begins to play out.
Bale and Affleck both give great performances in OUT OF THE FURNACE though neither crosses into truly amazing territory. Partly that lends to the fact their brotherhood never really works. They both are great actors, they both command the scene; however neither of them have as much chemistry with each other as they each share with both Dafoe and Harrelson, despite their relatively short screen time. This might not be such a big deal if their brotherhood wasn’t crucial to the story. Their lack of connection pulls us out, continually reminding us that we’re watching a movie and that the actors on the screen are not, in fact, related.
Some movies are a punch to the jaw or a visceral shot to the gut. Others try to hit you in that way but… just fail to connect. OUT OF THE FURNACE is, sadly, the latter; a film trying desperately to be as important as the filmmakers want it to be… Director Scott Cooper from 2009’s surprise breakout CRAZY HEART tries to carry his style into his sophomore feature but despite another great round of casting and some truly memorable performances OUT OF THE FURNACE never achieves its promise.
OUT OF THE FURNACE BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2.39:1) The video presentation is appropriately gritty and makes you feel like you’re right alongside Russell and Rodney as they try to figure out how to live their lives in OUT OF THE FURNACE.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The audio is mixed well and the score and dialogue all work well together in OUT OF THE FURNACE. The film shows some really competent filmmaking but doesn’t really take off.
Inspiration (03:30) The cast of the film discuss the reasons they got into acting. This could be an incredibly interesting feature if they’d gone just a little bit deeper. This feature feels very similar to OUT OF THE FURNACE in this way.
Scott Cooper (06:39) An interview with the director of OUT OF THE FURNACE, intercut with interviews with the cast and behind the scenes footage. Cooper discusses the reason he made the film. I like Cooper’s take on the movie; ‘An examination of the nature of violence in a world in which men deal with their problems.’ I wish it had played a little less pretentious, a little less cliché.
Crafting the Fight Scenes (05:15) This feature is a behind the scenes look at the choreography and realism presented in the bare-knuckle fight scenes in OUT OF THE FURNACE.
The Music of OUT OF THE FURNACE (09:07) Cooper again talks about his process of building the story and the atmosphere for OUT OF THE FURNACE. The filmmakers also talk about the importance of scoring and putting a feeling, an undercurrent, behind each film. If you enjoy scores this is moderately interesting but, like so much on OUT OF THE FURNACE, it feels a bit superficial and ends with you wanting something a bit deeper.
The Blu-ray package also features the Theatrical Trailer (02:24) and comes with a DigitalHD digital copy of OUT OF THE FURNACE in UltraViolet format.