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Peter Howell’s “Out of the Furnace” Lacks Commitment

In response to Peter Howell’s 889‑word review of Out of the Furnace on Toronto Star

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While Peter Howell’s “Out of the Furnace and Last Days of Mars: Double Review” has one or two interesting things to say, this piece is mostly a bland affair that hardly seems worth the space taken up to talk about one film, much less two.

Expressing his view that Out of the Furnace is the better of the two films, Howell emphasizes the strong effort put in by the actors but with the exception of one performance, spends little time expounding on the work they’ve done here, except to say that they play their roles as if “they’re in the most important film of their careers.” Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, or whether the critic is just trying to be clever, is hard to say. Or whether he’s saying the film is worth seeing because of the performances cannot be ascertained either.

Instead, he focuses on telling the audience what the film is about, using eight out of thirteen paragraphs to do so. And while he does manage not to reveal any obvious spoilers, the unneeded plot synopsis is mostly filler, as if the reviewer didn’t have anything else worthwhile to say.

And really, that may be the case. Out of the Furnace is a flaccid affair that lacks any real commitment. If the critic isn’t going to commit, why should the reader. Skip this one.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation