Ballast Reviews

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Ben Kenigsberg
Time Out
November 18, 2011
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Joshua Rothkopf
Time Out
November 17, 2011
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Geoff Andrew
Time Out
March 16, 2011
Although the film never fulfils the promise of its elliptical, mysterious opening - the drama occasionally lacks momentum as it proceeds towards some sort of resolution - there's no denying its intelligence, compassion and assurance.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Peter Howell
Toronto Star
November 21, 2008
Debut writer/director Lance Hammer has rendered [Ballast] with something that can only be called radiant austerity.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
November 21, 2008
This ostensibly simple film evokes whole lives in 96 minutes, and does so with sparse dialogue.
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Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
November 21, 2008
This is a cinematic tone poem, where the dominant mood is a Faulknerian mix of sorrow and endurance...
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
November 14, 2008
What this unclassifiable story may lack in decibels, it has in emotional depth.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
November 7, 2008
Ballast lacks ballast. Much praised by aficionados of minimalist indie cinema -- hey, who needs a plot when you've got mood? -- it's a wearying slog through anomie in a Mississippi Delta township.
Full Review | Original Score: C
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Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
November 7, 2008
This austere, rigorous film has a sense of place, a feeling for reality so compelling it makes us feel like we're living it, not just watching on a screen.
Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5
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Ella Taylor
L.A. Weekly
November 6, 2008
Ballast is an impressive first feature.
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Wesley Morris
Boston Globe
October 31, 2008
The movie is a beacon of independent filmmaking, not simply because Hammer opted more or less to self-distribute it, but because it's evident that we're a million miles away from Hollywood.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
October 31, 2008
Ballast strikes me as one of the few American pictures of 2008 to say what it wants to say, visually and narratively, about a specific situation and part of the country, in a way that transcends regional specifics.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
October 30, 2008
Lance Hammer shot this debut feature in natural light, using nonprofessional actors, and with its jump cuts, music-free soundtrack, and plaintive Mississippi Delta landscapes it seems as raw as the characters' emotions.
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Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
October 30, 2008
I always say I hardly ever cry at sad films, but I sometimes do, just a little, at films about good people.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Kirk Honeycutt
Hollywood Reporter
October 18, 2008
An impressive and courageous filmmaking debut that screams Sundance for all the right reasons.
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Lou Lumenick
New York Post
October 18, 2008
Hammer, whose blunt name belies the movie's many subtle touches, has his own distinct style. He also has an enormous trust in the audience to sort out this wounded family's miseries without the assistance of narration or even a musical score.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Walter V. Addiego
San Francisco Chronicle
October 17, 2008
Ballast is truly a winter's tale, set in a bleak and rainy corner of the Mississippi Delta and recounting the story of three African Americans teetering on the edge in just about every way.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Noel Murray
AV Club
October 2, 2008
There's a terrific short film buried in Ballast.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
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Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
October 1, 2008
As the movie comes into focus, you feel the lives of the characters echoing backward through time.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
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Manohla Dargis
New York Times
October 1, 2008
Ballast is a serious achievement and a welcome sign of a newly invigorated American independent cinema.
| Original Score: 4.5/5
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch
October 1, 2008
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Robert Koehler
Variety
January 22, 2008
An extraordinary debut.