offoffoff film



Site links
  • Contact us

    Get our newsletter:
    Search the site:

    Film section
  • Film main page
  • Film archive
  • Audio index
  • Film links

    Top 10 lists

  • Top 10 films of 2004
    (Andrea, David, Joshua, Leslie)
  • Top 10 films of 2003
    (Andrea, David, Joshua, Leslie)
  • Top 10 films of 2002
  • Top 10 films of 2001
  • Top 10 films of 2000
  • Top 10 films of 1999
  •  All of our top 10 lists, 1999 - 2004

    Current movies

  • Afterschool
  • Antichrist
  • Babies
  • Broken Embraces
  • Dare
  • District 9
  • The End of Poverty?
  • Fix
  • Food Beware
  • The Men Who Stare at Goats
  • Pirate Radio
  • Precious
  • Red Cliff
  • The September Issue


  • Brooklyn International Film Festival
  • Human Rights Watch Film Festival
  • New York Film Festival


    Complete archive

    Recent reviews:
  • (500) Days of Summer
  • Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer
  • The Art of the Steal
  • The Beetle
  • Blessed is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh
  • Boy A
  • Brideshead Revisited
  • The Brothers Bloom
  • Burn After Reading
  • Cold Souls
  • The Duchess
  • Elegy
  • Enlighten Up! A Skeptic's Journey Into the World of Yoga
  • Five Minutes of Heaven
  • Flame and Citron
  • Frozen River
  • Happy-Go-Lucky
  • How to Lose Friends & Alienate People
  • The Human Condition
  • Hunger
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • King of Shadows
  • The Lemon Tree
  • Lorna's Silence
  • A Man Named Pearl
  • Man on Wire
  • Memorial Day
  • Mister Foe
  • Morning Light
  • My F├╝hrer
  • My One and Only
  • Paris
  • The Pervert's Guide to Cinema
  • Peter and Vandy
  • Police, Adjective
  • Pray the Devil Back to Hell
  • Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind
  • Rachel Getting Married
  • A Secret
  • Sleep Dealer
  • St. Trinian's
  • Thirst
  • Throw Down Your Heart
  • Valentino: The Last Emperor
  • What's the Matter with Kansas?
  • Wild Grass
  • Jay DiPietro


    The Slaughter Rule

    Gridiron men

    The hard-hitting and frighteningly well acted "The Slaughter Rule" explores the uneasy relationship between a Montana teenager who's lost his father and the amateur football coach who wants to toughen him up.


    (Originally reviewed in March 2002 at Lincoln Center's New Directors, New Films festival.)

    "The Slaughter Rule" is a film as hard-hitting as its subject — six-man football in rural Montana. Six-man, we city folks may gather from the film, is what the small, remote schools and Indian reservations in the plains states play when they don't have the resources for a full football program, and it appears to be a wide-open game every bit as hard and furious as the 11-man game, maybe more. And this is just the backdrop for an intense human story of small-town life, personal loss and masculine relationships.

    Written and directed by: Alex and Andrew Smith.
    Cast: Ryan Gosling, David Morse, Clea Duvall, David Cale, Eddie Spears, Kelly Lynch, Amy Adams..

    Related links: Official site
    Two Boots Pioneer Theater
    155 East 3rd Street (at Avenue A)
    (212) 254-3300
    Jan. 8-22, 2003

    New Directors New Films 2002
  • Overview
  • Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner)
  • El Bola
  • Delbaran
  • Jeunesse Doree
  • Orphan of Anyang
  • Real Women Have Curves
  • The Slaughter Rule
  • 2001 festival
  • Two lives cross fatefully in "The Slaughter Rule." One is Roy Chutney, a lanky high school quarterback who goes through life with a vacant smirk on his face, even when, at the film's beginning, he's informed of the death — suicide, maybe — of his dad. He's still smiling when he's cut from the school team. "Chutney, look at you," the coach says. "You got no gumption. You ain't angry enough. I ain't got room for 'ain't angry enough.'╩"

    The other is Gideon "Gid" Ferguson (David Morse), a gruff, barrel-chested stranger in town who ekes out a slight living selling newspapers and corners Roy in the local diner with the idea of starting a team. This is a chance for both men to start fresh — Roy gets to play football again while Gid can revive his dream of coaching six-man, a dream which was shattered after a mysterious tragedy involving a young player in the state of Texas, where he's no longer permitted to coach.

    Their relationship is a fascinating one — sometimes close and fatherly, other times a little too intimate for comfort, with sexual overtones that make Roy nervous and draw taunts from his schoolmates. In many ways this connection is just what both of them needed, particularly Roy who is challenged to grow up and toughen up and confront the demands of being a man in a rugged culture. What Gid gets from this arrangement is harder to read and it's what fuels the rumors about him around town. But just like a football player thrives on the brutal pounding of body against body, these two seem to be fulfilling a need with their physical and emotional collisions.

    Just like a football player thrives on the brutal pounding of body against body, these two seem to be fulfilling a need with their physical and emotional collisions.  

    Meanwhile, Roy is being pulled in two other directions as well — by his best friend Tracey Two Dogs (Eddie Spears), a running back on the team who's his last link to a normal teenage life, and Skyla (Clea Duvall), an attractive young bartender in town who tries to comfort him after his father's death and wants him to soften up and show a little humanity. All of these pressures cannot go on forever, and by the end of the film they will result in broken hearts, broken bones and broken friendships.

    "The Slaughter Rule" is simply a great movie, made with intelligence and passion. For a small story in a remote corner of America, told with subtlety and ambiguity, its exploration of humans adrift hits you like a 250-pound linebacker no matter where you're from. And it features a terrifyingly real performance by David Morse ("Hack," "St. Elsewhere," "Dancer in the Dark") as the almost unknowable Gid — a character who brings with him the promise of either destruction or redemption and has both power and gnawing need at his core.

    MARCH 25, 2002

    Reader comments on The Slaughter Rule:

  • Boring   from Steve Johnson III, Nov 6, 2003
  • clea duvall   from Jessica blake, Nov 12, 2003
  • Ab fab!!   from Anne, Jan 7, 2004
  • Absolute crap   from Smithers, Jan 21, 2004
  • Re: Absolute crap   from randy, Sep 13, 2005
  • "The Slaughter Rule"   from peggy, Feb 19, 2004
  • Great visuals, too slow and sad   from Raul in Miami, Apr 13, 2004
  • OMG! AHHHH AHHHH AHHHHH....   from goob, Jun 30, 2004
  • slaughter house rule   from Lani, Nov 26, 2009
  • Eddie Spears   from thelovely, Mar 24, 2010

  • Post a comment on "The Slaughter Rule"