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Joe Morgenstern’s “The Furnace” Is Dressed-Up Prose Looking for Way Home

In response to Joe Morgenstern’s 466‑word review of Out of the Furnace on Wall Street Journal

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Joe Morgenstern dresses up his writing for the big ball in his latest piece, “Out of the Furnace,” but sadly the critique is left at home, much to the chagrin of Morgersternies all over the world.  

To quote Cool Hand Luke, “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” Morgenstern dances around the idea of serious analysis, and makes basic observations with basic critique.

Despite the generally boring quality of the opening paragraph of The Furnace, the critic does eventually lay out an argument based on “enduring its unremitting bleakness.” Morgenstern’s work is satisfactory, but only because of the writing. He is more of a describer or a one-line critic. Bale is this, Affleck is that…this happens, that happens. The critic notes how Affleck “vents his rage in a scene of immense power,” but that is all the reader gets. Things happen.

Morgenstern doesn’t fare much better in The Furnace when it comes to Scott Cooper’s direction. One will learn that “the film is as grim as it is impeccably crafted,” and that’s where it ends. The critic seems to be admiring things that he liked, and the big payoff is just a re-telling of his opening statement. The film gets dark.

The Furnace is a compilation of dressed-up sentences that can’t find their way home.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation