the Furnace (5/10)
into the fire for an unsuspecting person who wanders into a theater not
knowing what to expect. This is unremittingly depressing and graphically
violent. At times during the first hour, however, I thought I had died
and gone to a Terence Malick movie, so slow is the first hour with so
many Malick-like shots of inanimate objects and people thinking.
(from an original script by Brad Inglesby) and directed by Scott Cooper,
this is an attempt to tell the story of life in a Pennsylvania steel
town, in this case the real town of Braddock, where the film was shot,
and where Andrew Carnegie opened his first steel mill.
story doesn’t really begin until after the first hour has run its
course. It’s an ordeal to sit through it, one of the longest setups one
will be forced to endure before getting into the guts of the story. But
once the plot becomes apparent, it’s so dark and drear that it destroys
the point that Cooper might be trying to make, whatever that is.
you sit through it, the result seems to have no premise, no moral, and
no story except for revenge. It is basically an exposition of the
disheartening life of those living in places like Braddock. On the
positive side, it does contain some fine performances by Willem Dafoe,
Casey Affleck, and Woody Harrelson, however. Star Christian Bale isn’t
pressed much by the script or his role. He’s kind of the glue that holds
things together. Problem is, there’s not much to hold together.
is particularly effective. I was wishing he had been on screen more.
Harrelson, for his part, creates one of the creepiest villains since
Richard Widmark’s debut as psychopathic killer Tommy Udo in Kiss of
Death (1947). Both give award-quality performances.
Affleck’s performance doesn’t reach the award level, but it’s good
enough that he produces a distinctive quality making his scenes
addition to the fine performances, the cinematography (Masanobu
Takayanagi) creates much of the darkness and lack of hope which
permeates the film and makes Braddock and the New Jersey Ramapo
Mountains, where Harrelson and his incestuous crime gang exist,
essential characters in the film. In fact, the way the film is shot in
these locales is one of the reasons to justify sitting through this.
was accomplished in 34 shooting days, an astonishingly short period of
time for a full length feature, especially when it was all shot on
location. There wasn’t one scene filmed on a sound stage.
downside is that the film reeks with hopelessness and disaster. Even the
dénouement is unsatisfying.
December 3, 2013