YEAR: 2013

ROLE:  Gerald "Red" Baze

DIRECTOR:  Scott Cooper

US THEATRICAL RELEASE:  November 27, 2013

 
Plot Summary

Russell Baze (Christian Bale) and his younger brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) were born and raised in Braddock, Pennsylvania, a hardscrabble Rust Belt hamlet that has been home to generations of American steel workers. Russell followed their father into the mills, while Rodney took the only other option open to young men like him and enlisted in the Army, hoping to find a better life outside of Braddock. But after four brutal tours of duty in Iraq, an emotionally and physically depleted Rodney returns to a recession-weary town that offers even fewer options than before he left. When a cruel twist of fate lands Russell in prison, his younger brother tries to make ends meet by betting on horses and competing as a bare-knuckle boxer. Mired in debt, he soon finds himself enmeshed with a vicious sociopath, Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson), the leader of a ruthless backwoods crime ring in the New Jersey Ramapo Mountains. When Rodney suddenly disappears shortly after his brother is released from prison, Russell descends into a corrupt and violent-fueled world seeking answers.  Sam plays Russell's uncle "Red". 

 
Film Details
Christian BALE............................Russell Blaze
Casey AFFLECK.......................Rodney Blaze
Zoe SALDANA..........................Lena Warren
Woody HARRELSON.............Curtis DeGroat
Willem DAFORE.............................John Petty
Forest WHITTAKER...............Wesley Barnes

 
Production Notes:

The film was shot primarily in Braddock, PA in April of 2012. Filming also took place at Raccoon Creek State Park in PA, as well as at the West Virginia Penitentiary in Wheeler, WV.  Read interview with Sam.
 

 
Movie Stills
 
Reviews

Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter: 
A beautifully made and beautifully acted production that keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. And, having spent some time in Braddock during the making of this film, on the set and at various local landmarks, including the mill at which Bale's character works, I can testify to the fact that it nails the look, feel and vibe of this often-overlooked part of America and its inhabitants every bit as much as Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, The Town and The Fighter capture Boston and Bostonians.

Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post:
The unforgiving back roads and rusted-out mill towns of Appalachia provide the bleak backdrop and emotional landscape of “Out of the Furnace,” a well-acted, beautifully filmed, utterly depressing chronicle of revenge and thwarted dreams in post-industrial America.

Clint O'Connor, The Plain Dealer:
“Out of the Furnace” is a violent, unsettling, brutal film. It plays like something from the 1970s, with richly drawn characters allowed to breathe within scenes, and is set against a stark Rust Belt backdrop as sorrowful as the Eddie Vedder vocals bleeding through the soundtrack.  It’s also crammed with excellent performances. Director Scott Cooper knows how to garner heartfelt, realistic turns from his actors.

Bill Wine, CBS Philadelphia:
Cooper gives the melancholy melodrama a strong sense of place and a relentless deterministic pull: ineluctability trumps surprise at every turn. And he’s not afraid to be nasty or unpleasant. He gets cohesive, impactful work from his principal cast, often scrutinizing them with telling closeups, especially the remarkable, chameleon-like Bale as a decent guy who descends into a lust for retribution.

Scott Foundas, Variety:
The rusted-out soul of steel-town America and the ghosts of the 1970s post-Vietnam Hollywood cinema haunt Scott Cooper’s “Out of the Furnace,” a starkly powerful drama that in some ways feels like an Iraq-era bookend to “The Deer Hunter,” with bare-knuckle boxing substituted for Russian roulette.

Charlie Schmidlin, Indie Wire
Bale embodies Russell with perhaps his most unshowy performance to date... He and Affleck also share some finely tuned exchanges that highlight the binary oppression of their lives, where the prospect of legitimate work starts with the mill and strays little elsewhere. Perhaps the most understated and enigmatic contribution though is from Sam Shepard, playing Red, the brothers' uncle who grows closer to the family once Russell gets out of prison. As a positive influence in the siblings' lives he is a symbol of stoic responsibility, but watch his face as he and Bale infiltrate a crack den later on in the story, and you see a glint of his most savage tendencies that makes you wish Cooper had devoted more time to that aspect.

Nathan Rabin, The Dissolve:
"Out Of The Furnace" is a defiantly old-fashioned, well-crafted piece of storytelling whose power lies in its unadorned simplicity... It so thoroughly immerses viewers in the grit and grime of its evocatively captured setting that they might need to take a long shower afterward. It deftly, empathetically chronicles the kind of small town so brutal, it almost makes an extended stint in prison or a tour in Iraq seem like a vacation.

Allison Long, Film School Rejects
The quiet scenes between Bale and Shepard and the electric scenes between Bale and Harrelson are some of the best in the film and show how the film can truly sing when all the elements successfully come together."

Chris Hewitt, Pioneer Press: 
So intense, there won't be a fingernail left to bite... There are big stars in "Out of the Furnace," which boasts six actors with Oscar nominations, but there's no showboating here. Everyone fits snugly into Cooper's gritty, authentic drama, which opens with a scene of unexpected beauty and then proceeds to get uglier and uglier.

James Ward, The Californian:
Bale gives an understated performance as the ex-con. He creates a character whose weariness you can see on his face... Harrelson, in the film’s most flamboyant role, gives a scenery-chewing performance as the snarling, sadistic drug dealer/fight promoter...  Playwright Sam Shepard also turns in a strong performance as Baze’s stoic uncle. Shepard and Bale’s scenes together as they go hunting for deer are quiet but powerful.

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald:
"Out of the Furnace" is a boozy, searing portrait of disenfranchised people trying - and failing - to eke out an existence, but the movie celebrates their humanity and makes you share the scalding pain they are capable of feeling, like molten steel on bare flesh.

Carl Kozlowski, Catholic News Agency:
"Furnace" works as a gritty modern noir set in the rarely seen world of the small-town Northeast, with well-written and acted characters making it deeply affecting. Bale makes Russell particularly three-dimensional, as he struggles to keep his dignity and faith alive in brief yet touching moments of him at Mass both behind bars in prison and the bars of his own regular life in the dying real-life steel town of Braddock, Pennsylvania.

Tony Hicks, San Jose Mercury News:
"Out of the Furnace" is a visually striking film. It makes you feel chilled to the bone, not only by the Rust Belt Pennsylvania setting, but with its dark and violent subject matter. The acting of Christian Bale and Casey Affleck is superb... And the supporting cast is first-rate.

Betsy Sharkey, LA Times:
"Out of the Furnace" beautifully captures bare-knuckle lives... For all the violence — and this is a brutal film — there is a stirring tenderness of tough men tucked into the creases. A kiss on the head of a failing father, orchids tended by hardscrabble hands, the details of real life, real strife beautifully captured... The film was shot on location in Braddock, and from the factory to the streets, the authenticity lends a texture to the imagery that echoes Dorothea Lange's Depression-era photographs.

Eduardo Sanchez-Ubanell, Voxxi:
Gritty and captivating. With a cast that looks like it was picked straight off the red carpet at the Oscars, Out of the Furnace delivers some truly unforgettable performances. Woody Harrelson is particularly praiseworthy for his unnerving portrayal of the deranged crime boss, Harlan DeGroat. Willem Dafoe, Zoe Saldana, Forest Whitaker, and Sam Shepard round out the rest of the stellar cast.

Scott Mendelson, Forbes:
Writer/director Scott Cooper’s Out of the Furnace is an thoughtful and empathetic human drama, one full of sharply realized character turns and a distinct cultural milieu. As a character study of good people beaten down by economic hardship, it is mournful and emotionally potent story that happens to contain one of Christian Bale’s more low-key performances. Everyone here is good, but Bale, best known for being a cinematic trip-wire, is all-but worth the price of admission by himself.

Joe Neumaier, NY Daily News:
Like “The Deer Hunter”, from which it swipes its Keystone State milieu, its haunted veterans, its self-endangerment metaphor and a crucial central image, “Out of the Furnace” gets under your skin. Bale’s commitment etches a raw portrait of stagnation and sadness. Affleck is heartbreakingly feral.

Claudia Puig, USA Today:
The dark story in some ways recalls the grim mood of Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter, with the shadow of the Vietnam War updated to the Iraq War here. Bale gives one of his best performances, and Harrelson and Affleck are completely captivating. Supporting roles by Saldana, Whitaker and Sam Shepard as Russell and Rodney's stoic uncle, are also convincing, making for a raw, tense and bleak ensemble drama.

Jules Brenner, Cinema Signals:
It's an actor's film, and it shows in the consistent level of full out engagement. Zoe Saldana as Russell's lover Lena Taylor plays off Bale's intense struggle within the insoluble dilemma they find themselves in. Sam Shepard is steadily and sparely the image of no-quarter-given support. Affleck makes the most of an incendiary catalyst role. The chemistry between Bale and Affleck is another score in their, and the film's, favor.

Chris Bumbray, Joblo.com:
One thing is certain- "Out of the Furnace" puts Scott Cooper at the head of the pack of emerging directors and makes him one to watch. This is a phenomenal and ferocious film, capable of both quiet, sensitive moments, and sudden bursts of unimaginable brutality