Review: Down to the Bone (2004)


Vera Farmiga in Down to the Bone


Towards the end of 2005, Vera Farmiga’s performance as Irene, a cocaine addicted mother of two, in Down to the Bone caused quite a stir. The Los Angeles Film Critics Association awarded her the Best Actress prize over favorite Reese Witherspoon. Suddenly a new name was added to the short list of possible 2006 Oscar nominees.

Farmiga’s name was forgotten almost as quickly as it had been considered. Witherspoon, after all, went on to win the Academy Award, and Farmiga’s name was left off of the ballot entirely.

I won’t compare the two performances but I hate to break it to all you Reese fans out there, Vera Farmiga was better. Much better.

Simply put, Farmiga’s performance is gritty and painstakingly real.

Set in upstate New York, Irene, a grocery store clerk, is attempting to balance work and family, all while hiding a cocaine addiction. Irene has an ephihany when she tries to spend her son’s birthday money on drugs and she decides to check herself into rehab. In rehab, she meets Bob (Hugh Dillon) a former heroin addict.

Bob and Irene’s mutual affection for each other quickly develops into a romance. But, their relationship reaches a crossroads when one relapses into old habits. Irene must make a choice between her past and her future.

Down to the Bone, Debra Granik’s directorial debut, is a bleak film. Yet there is a chilling and almost poetic beauty about it, as Granik presents an unbiased look at life and addiction. And Vera Farmiga’s performance makes this a picture not to be missed.

Updated October 11, 2010

3 thoughts on “Review: Down to the Bone (2004)”

  1. I have to say I definitely was not on the Reese bandwagon for Best Actress. I was really pulling for someone who doesn’t just do chick flicks. It may sound harsh, but that’s about how I feel. The Academy really needs to recognize the real talent out there instead of just a pretty face (like Judi Dench or Felicity Huffman). I haven’t seen Walk the Line and don’t plan to, but that does not affect my decision to say Reese did not deserve the Oscar.

  2. While I agree with you that Reese Witherspoon winning an Academy Award for “Walk the Line” was slightly irking, (more now that I’ve seen “Down to the Bone”… personally I wanted Felicity Huffman to win), I have to defend Reese.

    She’s an incredibly talented actress who has starred in more than just chick flicks. Basically you’ve type-casted her based on “Legally Blonde”. And not based on “Pleasantville”, “Election”, “American Psycho”, or “Cruel Intentions”

    All that Reese winning proves is that the bigger the film production, the better shot you have to win an Oscar.

    And she did deserve to win for “Walk the Line”. For me, Reese Witherspoon was the best part.

    Also, you should see “Walk the Line”. It’s worth your time.

  3. The only reason I probably won’t see it is because I don’t like Johnny Cash. I really hate country music in general (there are very few exceptions).

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