Ballast Reviews

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Super Reviewer
April 20, 2010
This movie is from Kino International which carries the best in world cinema. Its also a winner of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. As with most Films from Kino International this film is a little different from most, if your idea of a good movie is Batman, Superman, Talladega Nights or something else common to American movie theaters then you will not enjoy this movie, but if your a fan of something a little less common and different then you will enjoy this one as I did. This is about 3 lost souls in the Mississippi Delta who come together through a suicide. Worth every bit of 4 stars
Super Reviewer
½ December 2, 2009
I liked the film a lot, but felt that there was something missing. So many things happen in the first half of the film that it;s a little jarring. As you keep watching, you understand why all those things happened, but the film moves at a much, slower pace. That was the thing that I liked about the film the most. It reverses the usual everything is good until the end where everything suddenly becomes terrible indie film plot and turns it on it's head. I will say that the actors (except for the mother character) are sub par, but it's understandable and it doesn't take anything away from the movie. The film looks gorgeous and I liked the ending, but I might have been expecting something different. Great use of Mississippi landscapes.
Super Reviewer
½ October 21, 2008
[font=Century Gothic]"Ballast" starts with John (Johnny McPhail) checking on his neighbor Lawrence(Michael J. Smith Sr.), concerned since he has not opened his convenience store in the past few days. What he finds is the body of his brother, shortly before Lawrence tries to join him via a gun but luckily he survives and is eventually released from the hospital. But Lawrence has bigger problems than just his recovery like his nephew James(JimMyron Ross) owing $100 to drug dealers and robbing him at gunpoint. James' mother Marlee(Tarra Riggs) does not have any money to spare even after all the long hours she works.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"Ballast" is about the need for a father in a boy's life but this is very debatable and sometimes a present father can do more harm than an absent one. This is also a thoughtful movie and character study that could have been even better if it had done without the cliched gunplay of the first half. In situations like this, the threat of violence works best and allows a subtle tension to play out just beneath the surface. Anyway, the movie does eventually settle down, getting rid of the jump cutting in the bargain, dispensing information on the characters' lives in its own unique way and displaying rural Mississippi to its best advantage.[/font]
Super Reviewer
November 23, 2008
Very difficult film to find which is unfortunate. The relationships are real and moving. One can imagine so many families living on the edge of povery in this type of a reality. Will they find satisfaction in life? Hard to say. I didn't cry like Roger Ebert but I was moved.
Super Reviewer
½ July 17, 2011
One of those no-soundtrack, no-action, mumbling dialog dramas, this time about a penniless single mother - reclusive brother in law- errant son triangle. It did nothing for me.
Critique Threatt
Super Reviewer
½ December 13, 2010
"Ballast" is simply one of the deepest moving pictures I have seen in a long time. The story is about three people who live a life of poverty, despair, and sadness in Mississippi Delta. The first time watching this was tough due to the slow pace of the picture but gradually this is one of Lance Hammer's strong strengths because he patiently giving his characters life and a the start of a future.

I really admired the mother Marlee played by Tarra Riggs. Her character was the most fascinating to me. What took me by surprise is how she becomes a leader. A REAL leader while slowly building a foundation. Lawrence (Michael J. Smith) is Marlee's sister-in-law and Marlee's son James (JimMyron Ross) who at first hangs out with troublemakers then realizes they are using him.

There is also a fourth character who goes by the name of John (Johnny McPhail). Not much is known except that he seems to be a good neighbour(John found Lawrence shot and called paramedics for help. When Lawrence is healed, John checks on Lawrence to make sure he's alright).

Overall "Ballast" is a paridigm picture that I didn't expect. This picture is an honest way of seeing real people doing things real people would do in the real world. Lance Hammer's picture also made me wonder and say "There is hope in life. There is real hope for those who are unfortunate".
Super Reviewer
August 22, 2010
A minimalist film, but with a lot of heart and emotion. No glitz or glam here - just a peek into the life of a family. Great performances from the cast.
Super Reviewer
August 22, 2010
Ballast looks beautiful, and I want to see what Lance Hammer does next, but someone needs to kick the shit out of this kid.
Super Reviewer
January 9, 2009
Beautifully photographed simple film. There is no music to manipulate you. It all feels real. For the most part the actors are wonderful and the film creates a great atmosphere. Very exciting debut by the director.
½ June 22, 2012
Heartbreaking and realistic. Watching this, it's hard to believe that we all live in the same country. That people like this live out their lives underneath the very same nation we are a part of. Anyway, this film is so understated and so well-done and so disturbing and surprising, it's a shame if you don't see it. So go see it.
November 28, 2010
Quiet movies like this are rare in my queue. Admittedly, I usually like spectacle in movies I watch. But I sure do appreciate good ones. And this is one of them. In will undoubtedly be compared to movies like George Washington or Das Weisse Band because of the settings, style and key elements of kids. And this one just has a mood to it that really give you enough to feel engaged, and I think that is what they were going for. It tried to leave you detached and slowly bring you in so that you feel how everyone is trying to connect.

The stars are very good in this movie and it never tries to force much of its agenda on you. It just tells the story, beautifully. It just could have been filmed with a little more depth of focus. A small complaint for a good overall movie.
½ January 6, 2010
Wonderfully shot and composed by Lance Hammer. This film truly captures some of the harsh realities of the South. Hammer never formally presents the movie conventionally to the audience, but lets the story unfold itself by showing the scenes before explaining them.
½ December 9, 2009
disturbing movie about shattered relationships and dysfunction. a little hard to watch but definitely worth seeing.
½ September 21, 2008
An austere and beautifully shot film about the things that tear us apart can also bring us together. An impressive directorial debut.
December 24, 2008
Hammer delivers a southern-fried slammer. Unassuming, stark and real. The director's patience and sense of mystery is remarkable. It's one of the best films in a terrible year for film. See it!
November 24, 2008
I saw this movie a few weeks ago, and I'm still waiting for something to happen in it. I want my money back (and I saw it for free).
January 11, 2014
The prevalent theme is the feeling of sadness. But there are many other minute details of the hard and rough life, broken relations, gangs, drugs and violence. All the people in the films are totally non-professionals. There is no use of background music and no artificial lighting either. The deserted lackluster landscape and surroundings add to the feeling of sadness of the characters themselves. Above all it is also a profound character study.
August 4, 2013
Intricate, detailed and beautifully filmed. You are captivated by the images and dark colours from the opening scene leaving you to thirst for more. The depth of the characters and the performances from the cast pulls you right in. A near perfect drama.
½ January 19, 2011
One of the best and most overlooked American indies of the last decade. It's penetratingly honest and real. Excellent movie here and one you'll love if you liked Frozen River or Beasts of the Southern Wild.
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