The Slaughter Rule | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The Slaughter Rule

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Actor David Morse, who's spent the last 20 years kicking around network television (St. Elsewhere) and building up an resume of impressive movie credits (Dancer in the Dark, The Green Mile), establishes himself as a truly formidable presence in this powerful first feature by Alex and Andrew Smith. A young athlete (Ryan Gosling), still smarting from his estranged father's suicide, is cut from his high school football squad and recruited by a volatile drifter from west Texas (Morse) to play quarterback for his down-and-dirty semipro team. What promises to be yet another feel-good sports movie flies off the rails as the nascent father-son relationship is poisoned by the coach's unguarded displays of emotion and the persistent rumors that he's homosexual. "I'm not a man who wants men," he declares. "I'm just a man who enjoys the company of men." But his possessiveness and his gaping emotional wounds are more threatening to the macho, tight-lipped kid than any pat on the ass, and their struggle for some sort of understanding plumbs the depths of what it means to be a man in America. 117 min. Facets Cinematheque, 1517 W. Fullerton, Friday, January 24, 7:00 and 9:00; Saturday and Sunday, January 25 and 26, 3:00, 5:00, 7:00, and 9:00; and Monday through Thursday, January 27 through 30, 7:00 and 9:00; 773-281-4114.

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