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Down to the Bone
Down to the Bone
Actors: Vera Farmiga, Hugh Dillon, Clint Jordan, Caridad 'La Bruja' De La Luz, Jasper Daniels
Director: Debra Granik
Genres: Drama, Music Video & Concerts
R     2006     1hr 44min

Irene is a working class mother living in upstate new york. She struggles to keep her marriage together & raise two sons while keeping her cocaine addiction a secret. Studio: Arts Alliance America Release Date: 08/14/200...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Vera Farmiga, Hugh Dillon, Clint Jordan, Caridad 'La Bruja' De La Luz, Jasper Daniels
Director: Debra Granik
Creators: Richard Lieske, Debra Granik, Alex MacInnis, Anne Kugler, Jean-Michel Dissard, Joyce Romano, Melissa P. Lohman
Genres: Drama, Music Video & Concerts
Sub-Genres: Love & Romance, Jazz
Studio: Arts Alliance Amer
Format: DVD - Color - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 10/31/2006
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 44min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 6
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Simple In Its Character Complexity--An Understated And Real
K. Harris | Las Vegas, NV | 02/25/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Through the years, there has been a proliferation of addiction drama. It's hard to imagine someone coming up with a new angle--there is addiction leading to destruction and addiction leading to rehabilitation. In either case, the addiction drama can be very alluring to the "serious" actor. What a great opportunity to showcase your acting chops--emotional devastation, a life spiraling out of control. Just think of all the actors who have received accolades (and deservedly so, for the most part) for exposing this unseemly underbelly of the human existence. What is a refreshing surprise about both "Down To The Bone" and Vera Farmiga's performance are how natural, straightforward, and understated they are.

Farmiga plays Irene, a wife and mother of two. A functional addict with a job as a supermarket checker, Irene realizes that her addiction is compromising a normal childhood for her children. Even though her husband is also a user, Irene takes steps to clean up her life when she hits a low point by stealing her daughter's birthday check to try and score a fix. The film documents her progress through a rehab program and the subsequent outpatient meetings as she attempts a drug free life. These scenes are played with a simplicity and earnestness. They are very naturalistic and the others involved play as real people instead of character types. There is no emotional grandstanding, just real individuals trying to get a grip on life--however fleeting that control may be. Connecting with a male nurse (and former heroin addict) at the rehab facility, Hugh Dillon in a great performance, Irene sees a success story and perhaps a chance at a clean life.

Not everything is easy on the outside, though, it never is. Struggling with her job (she loses efficiency when she's not stoned), a non-supportive husband, and a potential new love interest--Irene's life is a complicated as ever. But she must make changes in order to survive and succeed. Through it all, the subtlety of Farmiga's performance keeps you invested in her story. Not a hero, not a villain--she's a messed-up protagonist who makes mistakes. Farmiga doesn't need big moments to convey the complexity of Irene, and this is surely the performance of a major talent.

Director Debra Granik has made a stunningly simple film about a very difficult topic. By allowing Farmiga to develop Irene as a real person and peel away vanity and "staginess," "Down to the Bone" emerges as a sincere, relevant, and understated examination of the functioning addict. I look forward to seeing more work from Granik and Farmiga (who got a big role in "The Departed" after this film that only showcases a fraction of her apparent talent). KGHarris, 02/07."
The new face of addiction...
Damian Gunn | I am everywhere | 12/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Clearly snubbed by Oscar last year, Vera Farmiga delivers a brilliantly controlled performance that warranted an absent Best Actress nomination in this low-budget independent film about a young mother named Irene (Farmiga) who just can't seem to break her bad habits. Irene is struggling to keep her marriage to fellow junkie Steve (Clint Jordan) afloat while she battles to raise her two sons. Her drug habit of course makes all of this difficult and so she decides that checking herself into rehab may finally help her to quit for good.

Once administered she meets fellow junkies trying to break free, including Lucy (Caridad De La Luz) and Bob (Hugh Dillon), a supposed reformed junkie who takes a liking to Irene from day one. The two of them start a heated affair that ends badly when they both fall back into using and are eventually arrested for possession, an act that costs Irene her marriage.

What makes this film stand out from the rest of the drug and rehabilitation films we see year after year is the authenticity in the performance given by Vera, her complete understanding of what her character is facing at any given moment. From her remorse filled eyes as she sits across from her counselor to her complete uncertainty as she stares at her husband and her friends using right before her eyes, offering no support to someone they supposedly love. The environment she's living amidst is part of what breaks her down, herself being the only one determined to change, and it's all but impossible to make those changes on your own.

~I just want to mention that one reviewer stated her husband Steve was 'a nice guy' and that's a statement I wholeheartedly disagree with. The scene I mentioned above alone made me hate him. As he knows she's trying to clean up he blatantly does drugs in front of her and then offers her them. He does this on more than one occasion and that alone shows his lack of support for her, an act that is far from a 'nice' thing to do.~

The scenes where Irene is drugged and or recovering from the last nights drug binge are so painstakingly real that her acting becomes living. The scene where her son puts the snake around her neck is so surreal, so much more than acting. Another actor who must be mentioned and praised is Hugh Dillon who delivers a brilliant performance as Irene's bad influence, a man who at one time helped her change and then within the same breath took it all away. His own battles with himself are so accurately depicted that you forget to hate him for what he's doing to Irene.

There is so much baggage attached with this film, and it handles it so effortlessly that it quickly becomes one of the best films to tackle the subject of addiction and redemption I've ever seen. With a brilliant script and excellent acting (of course) this film is easily one of my favorite films of 2005. It slipped under the radar, but I promise you that after you watch this film it won't easily be forgotten, and Vera's performance alone is one for the textbooks."
One day at a time . . .
Ronald Scheer | Los Angeles | 12/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is not your usual story about drug addiction. Set in the dreary months of winter and shot in Kingston, New York, it portrays the life of a very real desperate housewife with a blue-collar husband and two kids, a job as a cashier at a supermarket, and a drug habit. The film follows her attempts to get clean and sober without the usual melodrama of films in this genre, just the day-to-day struggle of dealing with a difficult life within constant earshot of addiction's siren call.

Vera Farmiga gives an amazing, controlled performance as the central character in the film, who loses both job and husband as she takes up with a male nurse at a rehab facility. Struggling with his own addiction, he jeopardizes her recovery, and the cycle of drug dependence continues. The film develops dramatic intensity without the use of histrionics. Voices are rarely raised and physical movement is restrained, yet emotions crackle under the surface of most scenes. The presence of two totally plausible child actors in several scenes adds a dimension of vulnerability while avoiding sentimentality.

The DVD includes a short film, "Snake Feed," on which the feature film was based, plus a commentary by the director, Debra Granik, and actress Farmiga."
Self-destruction or self-redemption?
Daniel B. Clendenin | www.journeywithjesus.net | 01/24/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Vera Farmiga won a Sundance award for her portrayal of Irene, a blue collar checkout clerk, mom of two boys, and compulsive cokehead. Irene is a survivor of sorts who is easy to admire. She clearly loves her boys Ben and Jason, finds another job cleaning houses when the grocery store fires her ("I was fast because I was high, but when I came clean I slowed down."), and even checks herself into rehab. But she leaves rehab early, spends her kid's birthday check on crack, and leaves her dead beat husband for a recovering addict named Bob. Their emerging love devolves into relapse, co-dependence, and new spasms of self-destructive choices. Writer-director Debra Granik also won a Sundance Director's Award for this film. Befitting the despair and depth of Irene's problems, the entire film takes place in the dead of winter, and at the film's end the plot remains open and unresolved. Rated R for drug use and some nudity."