The Slaughter Rule | Chicago Reader

The Slaughter Rule

Actor David Morse, who's spent the last 20 years kicking around network television (St. Elsewhere) and building up an impressive resumé of movie credits (Dancer in the Dark, The Green Mile), establishes himself as a formidable screen presence in this powerful first feature by Alex and Andrew Smith. A college athlete (Ryan Gosling), still smarting from his estranged father's suicide, is cut from his school's 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 their 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 college 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.

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