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Out of the Furnace

A star-packed film, this bleak revenge drama is about two brothers in a working-class steel town on the edge of the Appalachians.


OUT OF THE FURNACE is set in Braddock, a steel town in Pennsylvania close to the Appalachians. The central characters are a steel mill worker, his brother, an Iraq veteran, and a brutal backwoods gangster. The film addresses the relationship of the working classes in post-industrial small town America to those who no longer really belong. The film features a star-studded cast. Alongside Christian Bale, Casey Affleck and Woody Harrelson in the lead roles, Sam Shepard plays the brothers’ uncle, Willem Dafoe a likeable gangster, and Forest Whitaker is the small town police chief.
Christian Bale is the hardworking and honest Russell Baze, who works in a smelting furnace and is keen to start a family. His girlfriend Lena (Zoe Saldana) is African-American. From this one can conclude that Russell is not just any working-class man, but one who represents the modern, liberal American proletariat. His brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) enlists in the army to escape from the town. Their father dies of lung cancer, a direct consequence of working in the steel mill for decades. Rodney has good reasons to run away from this dead end life. Then everything falls apart. Russell causes an accident that results in the death of a child and goes to jail. Rodney returns to the town after four tours of duty in Iraq and starts to pay back his gambling debts by taking up bare-knuckle boxing organised by the paternal gangster John Petty (Willem Dafoe). But when Rodney fights the backwoods Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson), to whom Petty owes a lot of money, disaster takes it course. What ensues is a bleak tale of revenge.
In OUT OF THE FURNACE the grandchildren of the miners in the nearby Appalachians are addicted to crack, heroin, and crystal meth. The residents of Braddock, Pennsylvania fear that their town will soon share this fate. Rodney Baze is dangerously close to the edge of this madness as is his older brother Russell since it is rumoured that the mill will close down. The town is already a rotting pile of rubble.
At first glance OUT OF THE FURNACE has elements of a macho revenge story in the spirit of old Charles Bronson films like DEATH WISH. They are about the American working classes devouring themselves out of desperation and the poor find someone even poorer who they can despise. The most despicable is Harlan, the cruel drug dealer living in the mountains played by the beloved comedian Harrelson. On which side do the characters in this film stand? Indeed on the same side. And all of them act as though their destiny is predetermined.

Tom Dorow

Translation: Carla McDougall


Original title: Out of the Furnace
USA/Großbritannien 2013, 116 min
Genre: Drama, Crime Drama, Thriller
Director: Scott Cooper
Author: Scott Cooper, Brad Ingelsby
DOP: Masanobu Takayanagi
Montage: David Rosenbloom
Music: Dickon Hinchliffe
Distributor: Tobis Film
Cast: Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Sam Shepard, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Forest Whitaker, Zoe Saldana, Boyd Holbrook
FSK: 16
Release: 03.04.2014




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles

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