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Universal acclaim - based on 24 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 9 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: In the cold, winter light of a rural Mississippi Delta township, a man’s suicide radically transforms three characters’ 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. (Alluvial Film Company) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 24
  2. Negative: 0 out of 24
  1. 100
    Ballast inexorably grows and deepens and gathers power and absorbs us. I always say I hardly ever cry at sad films, but I sometimes do, just a little, at films about good people.
  2. Reviewed by: Robert Koehler
    A rock-ribbed sense of committed, personal cinema and a core belief in people being able to pull themselves out of misery supports Ballast, an extraordinary debut by editor-writer-director Lance Hammer.
  3. Reviewed by: Jeremy C. Fox
    What they produced is something that is true not just to this place or to these people's lives, or to the lives of poor people or black people, but to the experience of being human.
  4. Hammer filmed on location with local nonactors. Their lack of polish is evident -- Smith's inexpressiveness, though part of his character, is simply blank at times -- but their conviction can be just as powerful.
  5. 75
    Hammer, whose blunt name belies the movie's many subtle touches, has his own distinct style. He also has an enormous trust in the audience to sort out this wounded family's miseries without the assistance of narration or even a musical score.
  6. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    The result is an exhilarating narrative.
  7. Ballast lacks ballast. Much praised by aficionados of minimalist indie cinema – hey, who needs a plot when you've got mood? – it's a wearying slog through anomie in a Mississippi Delta township.

See all 24 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. May 31, 2011
    Director Lance Hammer tells a quiet and personal story, with amazing performances by non-actors. Director of photography, Lol Crawley, beautifully moves the story along with an even more personal handheld camera, documenting the empty Mississippi delta. Ballast is a tragically unheard of film which will always remain a gem to those who have viewed it. Expand
  2. Jan 3, 2012
    With no hip hop soundtrack or flashy editing, Ballast is one of the truest portraits of family dynamics and seemingly real characters (which is hard to find in hollywood's portrayal of black people) This film is completely absorbing and natural and never falls into independent filmmaking stereotypes neither (sure, it's quiet but it is for a reason rather than using silence as a cover up for a lack of ideals) Also the cinematography is amazing, no shaky "indie" camera work. It proves that just because a film has no budget it does not have to look like it. Expand