Critics Consensus

A searing debut by director Lance Hammer, this subtle and contemplative Mississippi set drama lingers long after its conclusion.



Total Count: 78


Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,181
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Ballast Photos

Movie Info

In the cold, winter light of a rural Mississippi Delta township, a man's suicide radically transforms three character's lives and throws off-balance what has long been a static arrangement among them. Marlee is a single mother struggling to scratch a living for herself and James, her 12-year-old son, who has begun to stumble under drug and violence pressures. So when the opportunity to seek safe harbor at a new home arises, she grabs it, though the property is shared by Lawrence, a man with whom Marlee has feuded bitterly since James's birth. With circumstances thrusting them into proximity, a subtle interdependence and common purpose emerge for Marlee and Lawrence as they navigate grief, test new waters, and tentatively move forward.

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Critic Reviews for Ballast

All Critics (78) | Top Critics (25) | Fresh (72) | Rotten (6)

Audience Reviews for Ballast

  • Jul 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.
    Lesley N Super Reviewer
  • Dec 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".
    Brian R Super Reviewer
  • Aug 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.
    Sarah P Super Reviewer
  • Aug 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.
    matt s Super Reviewer

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