97 minutes, U.S.A., 2013, Colour, D-Cinema

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It’s 2008, and as Obama’s election plays out on TV, Russell Baze (Christian Bale) struggles to make ends meet working in the steel town of Braddock, Pennsylvania. His elderly father is ill and bedridden, while his brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) has joined the army to escape the inevitability of working at the mill, enduring multiple tours of Iraq. Russell’s love for Lena (Zoe Saldana) keeps him grounded, but as events spiral out of his control, he is forced to take action when he witnesses Rodney return from war with a self-destructive bent that brings him in contact with the malevolent Harlan DeGroat (a truly chilling turn from Woody Harrelson).

Willem Defoe, Forrest Whitaker and Sam Shepard complete a mouth-watering ensemble cast. Scott Cooper’s follow up to Crazy Heart, shot “entirely and proudly” on 35mm film, is an emotive blue collar drama with affirming echoes of 1970s post-Vietnam Hollywood cinema.

★★★★ RTE TEN

★★★★ Entertainment.ie

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