Down to the Bone

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(2004) ★★★

Film4: PREMIERE Monday 14 July, 1.30am

New York grocery clerk Vera Farmiga has kept her cocaine habit secret from husband Clint Jordan and their two young sons. But after blowing money put aside for her boy’s birthday gift, she realises she needs help. Trouble is, helpful rehab nurse Hugh Dillon provides a different kind of temptation for the struggling Farmiga. Expanded from a 1997 Sundance prizewinning short called Snake Feed, director Debra Granik’s feature debut is shot with the same detached, documentary-like naturalism that informed her next film. Which was Winter’s Bone, the 2010 drama that heralded the arrival of Jennifer Lawrence. Sundance liked Down to the Bone, too, giving jury prizes to both Granik and her leading lady. Farmiga is a remarkably soulful actress, and she’s well cast here, internalising the kind of self-destructive forces that drag down so many druggy dramas. Los Angeles film critics smartly voted Farmiga best actress in the year that Reese Witherspoon picked up an Oscar for playing June Carter in the Johnny Cash biopic, Walk the Line. She has since made her own directorial debut with the ambitious and intriguing 2011 drama, Higher Ground.

Certificate: 15

Duration: 101min