The Substance of Fire Image

Mixed or average reviews - based on 15 Critics What's this?

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  • Summary: Ron Rifkin plays a headstrong book publisher who refuses to "sell out" by releasing anything commercial, even when his business partner and son (Goldwyn) discovers a sure-fire best-seller. As the father's stubbornness pushes their company to the brink of bankruptcy, the son must convince his brother and sister (Hutton and Parker) to join him in a fight that will save the business, but may destroy their family. (BV Entertainment) Collapse
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 15
  2. Negative: 0 out of 15
  1. 75
    The film, directed by Daniel Sullivan, is brave, I think, to offer us a complicated scenario without an easy moral compass.
  2. This sensitive, sometimes troubling family drama is one of the rare movies dealing with intelligent adults tackling lifelike problems.
  3. The film, to its credit, never tries to pluck your heartstrings. As it follows the Geldharts around New York, they are figures in a meditative dialogue on human values that reaches no easy conclusions.
  4. 50
    Aside from a powerful performance by Ron Rifkin (reprising his stage role) and a few quietly effective scenes, there's not much reason to subject yourself to a film this off-putting.
  5. First-time film director Sullivan draws good performances from Goldwyn, Hutton and Parker, as well as Debra Monk, Elizabeth Franz and Eric Bogosian in minor roles.
  6. In the case of Jon Robin Baitz's script, adapted from his play, in spite of the fact that he made considerable alterations in the text to open it up to cinematic possibilities, the movie disappoints in much the same way the play did.
  7. But despite a compelling opening, as a movie it loses focus and purpose as it proceeds.

See all 15 Critic Reviews