Feeling lazy here, so I just IMDB'd this one. So....I wanted to like this. There's a great cast here, and they all show up and perform outstandingly. Christian Bale is phenomenal as the older brother, Russell, as well as Casey Affleck as the younger brother, Rodney. Woody Harrelson was terrifying as the villain, Harlan. Oh man was he absolutely terrifying and unpredictable. Zoe Saldana, William Dafoe, Sam Shepard, and Forest Whitaker all do a great job as well, despite the fact that some of these guys are literally only in one or two scenes of the movie. Like William Dafoe. And Zoe Saldana. Actually the best scene of the movie is between Zoe and Christian Bale. It's a truly heartbreaking scene as the former lovers (in the movie) see each other for the first time in a really long time and Zoe tells Bale that he's pregnant with another man's child. It is a truly emotional scene and the best scene of the movie without a doubt, as Bale masterfully shows the forced happiness he has for her while having a lot of sadness as he realizes he's not going to win her back.
Now that I've pointed out positives, here are the negatives. The script is terrible. Ya. Terrible. As one of my favorite critics put it, this movie revolves around the themes of every Bruce Springsteen song ever written. Not badmouthing the boss just saying he's not a lyrical genius. The acting here is what makes it into an above average movie, despite the backing of a terribly-written script. Director Scott Cooper is definitely trying too hard to make a nitty-gritty drama about the working class and how hard they have it nowadays. Instead it comes off as very self-aware and honestly rather pretentious. There were some twists that I was not expecting, and some good ideas with fight clubs and such, but these were few and far between for me to really enjoy myself throughout the 116-minute movie. Too much unnecessary oh! Look at this hardship! Look at this poor house! And how hard it is to live like this! Too much of that. And everyone has to whisper too. Oh man I had to turn my volume up to max just to hear the movie. And then we get a fight club scene and IT'S REALLY LOUD AGAIN. Also for the record I'm not saying the working class doesn't have it rough. I have a lot of respect for the working class. We just don't need it shoved down our throat in a movie, you know?
So there ya have it. One of my shorter reviews I know. But honestly one of the reasons it's shorter is because it is pretty forgettable. Were it not for this documentation I would probably forget all traces of this movie in a month or two. Well acted, but poor direction and writing throw some potentially good ideas off the tracks. And I wanted to like this one too....
The Critique: too gritty for its own good, this drama is well acted despite the fact that it's poorly directed and has a poorly written script.
The Recommendation: If you like movies about the working class or Christian Bale or Woody Harrelson I'd recommend it, otherwise stay away.
Rewatchability: Moderately Low
The Verdict: 5.5/10 Slightly Above Average (just on acting alone)
Oscar Talk: I hope Woody Harrelson gets nominated for supporting actor, but I highly doubt it.