Down to the Bone

Also lost amid the clash of year-end titans is this hypnotic human drama from first-time director Debra Granik. If there were an ounce of taste left in Hollywood, the magnificent Vera Farmiga would be a front-runner for the Best Actress Oscar along with Transamerica's Felicity Huffman and Walk the Line's Reese Witherspoon. Yes, she's that good. Farmiga plays Irene, a blue-collar woman trying to juggle her roles as wife to Steve (Clint Jordan), mom to two boys and supermarket checkout cashier with her full-time avocation as a cokehead. Granik, who wrote the mercilessly blunt script with Richard Lieske, doesn't spare the graphic details. Shot by Michael McDonough, who brings a poet's eye to high-def video, the film is a low-budget winner. And Farmiga, named actress of the year by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, delivers a tour de force.

From The Archives Issue 355: October 29, 1981