The Slaughter Rule (2002)

The Slaughter Rule is the first feature film by Alex and Andrew J. Smith, starring Ryan Gosling, David Morse, Clea DuVall, David Cale, Eddie Spears and Kelly Lynch (and in a mini-mini-role Amy Adams).

After the deat of Roy’s father and Roy’s (Ryan Gosling) getting kicked out of the football team, he is approached by Gid (David Morse) who offers to establish a six-man-football team with Roy as the quarterback. Roy agrees, also because Gid knows Skyla (Clea DuVall), a bartender Roy likes. The relationship between Gid and Roy is in turn very caring and very difficult, especially when rumors about Gid’s sexuality start surfacing.

When I first heard about The Slaughter Rule, I thought it would be your run of the mill sports movie and only Ryan Gosling actually made me want to watch it. But I was pleasantly surprised: it’s a thoughtful, well-acted movie that draws you in.

The movie closely examines male friendships, or relationships in general. They mostly use Roy and Gid for that, but also Roy and his best friend Tracy (Eddie Spears) don’t always have the simplest friendship. And then there’s Roy’s dead father who kinda hangs over everything or Gid’s homeless, alcoholic friend Studebaker (David Cale) who add a little more to the whole thing.

The film remains nonjudgmental and implicit: we never get a clean, spelled-out answer and you have to form your own opinion, and partly even your own story. But since it gives you enough information to do that, it’s not frustrating but very rewarding.

The cast is wonderful, above all David Morse (who shows how underrated he usually is) and Ryan Gosling, who I can’t gush enough about. With each movie I see with him, I love him more. The both of them handle the layered and complicated relationship of their characters easily.

All of these accomplishments are even more impressive since it’s the first feature film by directors/writers Alex and Andrew J. Smith. I’m curious to see more of them but since they’ve made only one movie since this one (that will be out next year), it seems not everybody feels that way…

Summarising: Very recommended.

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