Astrology: Film: Review: ‘Out of the Furnace’ (2013)

Relativity Media

Relativity Media

The testosterone-suffused Out of the Furnace, written and co-directed by Scott Cooper, is a grim take on archetypal Mars gone berserk. The red planet, which oversees the business of how one goes about getting what one wants, bleeds its crimson in every frame, symbolically if not literally.

In the Rust Belt, specifically Braddock, Pennsylvania, where the movie is set, good jobs are hard to come by. That means brothers Russell Baze (Christian Bale) and younger sibling Rodney (Casey Affleck) need to take whatever livelihood – work is Mars’ bailiwick – they can get.

Russell follows in his father’s footsteps and becomes a steel-mill lifer. Rodney becomes a soldier – a typical Mars profession – doing four tours in Iraq. However, Rodney also has a gambling problem – Mars rules risk – and big brother has been giving over a chunk of his paycheck to help pay down the kid’s debt to Petty (Willem Dafoe), a loan shark.

When Russell winds up in prison for involuntary manslaughter – Mars, again – Rodney’s additional financial help disappears. This leads Rodney to up the ante and start competing in bare-knuckle boxing – Mars rules sports – resulting in a dangerous match-up with Harland DeGroat (Woody Harrelson), an almost cartoonishly evil crime and drug lord.

Mars, which also oversees sexual activity and reproduction, messes with Russell in a different way. On a rat wheel as he tries to help his brother, he depletes his own savings and is in no financial position to marry his girlfriend Lena (Zoe Saldana), with whom he wants to have a child. On Rodney’s release from prison, she tells him she’s found another man to impregnate her.

When Rodney goes missing after his last fight match, Russell is faced with either aligning his mission to find his brother according to the protocol followed by the town’s sheriff (Forest Whitaker) – Mars rules law enforcement – or by himself, in Mars-ruled, Aries-like fashion.

Out of the Furnace is a bare-bones narrative, more fully appreciated as a study in maleness and what happens when outlets for its archetypal expression, across the board, get jammed up personally and societally.

Astrology Film Rating: ♂ (Mars)

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