The Slaughter Rule (2002) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Slaughter Rule (2002)



Critic Consensus: A bleak but original indie, The Slaughter Rule benefits from outstanding performances by Ryan Gosling and David Morse.

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Movie Info

A teenager at a personal crossroads finds himself questioning the things that have given his life meaning in this independent coming-of-age drama. Roy Chutney (Ryan Gosling) is a high school senior in a small Montana town. Roy doesn't have an especially close relationship with his mother Evangelline (Kelly Lynch), and he hasn't seen his father in years. That doesn't prevent Roy from feeling emotionally devastated when he learns that his father has killed himself, and Roy's self-esteem takes a beating when he's cut from the high school football team shortly afterward. Roy wiles away his time swilling beer with his best friend, Tracy Two Dogs (Eddie Spears), and falling into a romance with Skyla (Clea Duvall), a barmaid at a local tavern, but it seems Roy's short time on the high school gridiron impressed Gideon Ferguson (David Morse), a local character who coaches a semi-pro six-man football team when he isn't delivering newspapers or trying to score a gig singing country songs at nearby honky-tonks. Gid thinks Roy has potential, and asks him to join his team; encouraged by Gid's belief in him, Roy agrees, and he persuades Tracy to tag along. While playing hardscrabble six-man football helps restore Roy's self-confidence, he finds it doesn't answer his questions about his future or his relationship with Skyla, and when Gid's overwhelming interest in Roy begins to lend credence to the rumors that Gid is gay, Roy starts to wonder just why he was asked to join the team. Jay Farrar, founder of the acclaimed alternative country bands Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt, composed the film's musical score.more
Rating: R (adult situations/language)
Genre: Drama
Directed By: ,
Written By: Alex Smith, Andrew J. Smith
In Theaters:
On DVD: Feb 17, 2003
Cowboy Pictures - Official Site


Ryan Gosling
as Roy Chutney
David Morse
as Gideon Ferguson
Eddie Spears
as Tracey Two Dogs
Kelly Lynch
as Evangeline
David Cale
as Studebaker
Amy Adams
as Doreen
Ken White
as Russ Colfax
Noah Watts
as Waylon Walks Along
Geraldine Keams
as Gretchen Two Dogs
Douglas Sebern
as Uncle Peyton
Cody Harvey
as Coach Motlow
Chris Offutt
as Charlie
Volley 'Punk' Reid
as Forfeit Referee
H.A. Smith
as Slick Higgins
Michael Mahony
as Nelson Chutney
Alison Tatlock
as Jolene Chutney
Michael Dunlap
as Football Announcer
Perle Weissman
as Keno Lady
David Wiater
as Male Nurse
Tim Boggs
as Renegade
Nate McClure
as Renegade
Matt Pipinich
as Renegade
Paul Pipinich
as Renegade
Jesse Sidor
as Renegade
Michael Smart
as Renegade
Ben Snipes
as Renegade
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Slaughter Rule

Critic Reviews for The Slaughter Rule

All Critics (31) | Top Critics (11)

Having made his name as a ferocious, self-hating Jewish skinhead in The Believer, 22-year-old Ryan Gosling gives another memorable performance as a lonely, world-hating fatherless quarterback in The Slaughter Rule.

Full Review… | February 16, 2011
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

As compellingly played by Morse, a great actor who gives pic more than it gives him, Gideon comes off as a sensitive soul who knows how risky it can be to appear too sensitive in a small town.

Full Review… | February 16, 2011
Top Critic

The film's powerful meditation on masculinity gets much of its credibility and punch from the two leads, especially Morse, a reliable character actor who sinks his teeth into a role with heavy physical and psychological demands.

Full Review… | February 16, 2011
AV Club
Top Critic

David Morse, who's spent the last 20 years kicking around network television and building up an resume of impressive movie credits, establishes himself as a truly formidable presence in this powerful first feature by Alex and Andrew Smith.

Full Review… | February 16, 2011
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Writer-directors Andrew and Alex Smith go for emotional truth, but what they come up with is often silly.

Full Review… | February 7, 2003
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Unlike Terrence Malick, whose shadow looms over the film's visual style, the Smiths over-explain, not grasping that all those barren fields and blood-red clouds are doing plenty of work for them.

Full Review… | January 23, 2003
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Slaughter Rule

[font=Century Gothic]In "The Slaughter Rule", Roy(Ryan Gosling) is not having the best of weeks - his father is killed, then he is cut from his high school football team, apparently for not being angry enough. A coach of an independent six-man football team, Gideon(David Morse) recruits him to his team. There are local whispers as to whether Gideon's interest in Roy is purely professional...while Roy catches the eye of an attractive waitress, Skyla(Clea Duvall).[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]"The Slaughter Rule" is a deliberately paced movie that takes full advantage of its unique setting in rural Montana. The beautiful scenery contrasts wonderfully with the hardscrabble lives of the characters. I thought it did a very realistic job of portraying small town life especially for the teenagers. I wish it had made more of a statement concerning masculinity, though. The performances are fine, especially David Morse who finally gets to play a character he can sink his teeth into.[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]Note: On Saturday, I saw "Dallas 362" where Kelly Lynch plays a widowed mother. In "The Slaughter Rule", she plays a character who is officially divorced when her ex-husband is killed. Is this a trend or am I really having one of those weeks?[/font]

Walter M.

Super Reviewer


Ryan Gosling and David Morse give terrific performances; I was very impressed by both of them actually. Features a young Amy Adams in a minuscule role.

I only watched it because it was filmed at my highschool, and my friend is one of the twins on the football team.

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