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In the cold, winter light of a rural Mississippi Delta township, a man's suicide radically transforms three character's 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… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Although the film never fulfils the promise of its elliptical, mysterious opening - the drama occasionally lacks momentum as it proceeds towards some sort of resolution - there's no denying its intelligence, compassion and assurance."
‑ Geoff Andrew, Time Out
"This is a cinematic tone poem, where the dominant mood is a Faulknerian mix of sorrow and endurance..."
‑ Rick Groen, Globe and Mail
"Worth seeing as an example of the lengths to which a filmmaker will go to establish his career - but don't ever mistake it for sociology."
‑ Kelly Vance, East Bay Express
"Hammer manages to do enough with his actors and his nuanced script to make this exploration of the way even disparate people can provide stability for one another seem surprisingly engaging."
‑ Alistair Harkness, Scotsman
"This airy, quiet meditation on the struggle of three people to transcend abject poverty and unexpected loss will likely play as too dialled-down for many tastes, but persevering with it will reveal a rare, peculiar mystical quality..."
‑ Shaun Munro, What Culture
"Debut writer/director Lance Hammer has rendered [Ballast] with something that can only be called radiant austerity."
‑ Peter Howell, Toronto Star
"What this unclassifiable story may lack in decibels, it has in emotional depth."
‑ Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer
"His brilliant "Ballast" was as much a hit in Seattle as it was at Sundance."
‑ Brandon Judell, GreenCine
"The opening half hour is electrifying, the ending interestingly open-ended..."
‑ Philip French, Guardian
"Quite a debut here from writer-director Lance Hammer, working on a minuscule budget in the Mississippi Delta, and evoking a memorably forlorn kind of regional specificity."
‑ Tim Robey, Daily Telegraph
"This ostensibly simple film evokes whole lives in 96 minutes, and does so with sparse dialogue."
‑ Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
"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."
‑ Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor
"With debut director Lance Hammer admirably holding on to his core values in a way that directors too easy to deliver a crowd-pleaser do not, this is a fine, low-budget independent film..."
‑ Graham Young, Birmingham Post
"A hugely impressive, distinctive directorial debut and a compellingly humanist window onto a layer of American society that mainstream cinema likes to pretend doesn't exist."
‑ Sophie Ivan, Film4
"Naturalistic performances from a non-professional cast add to the austere integrity and touching humanity of this bleak tale."
‑ Allan Hunter, Daily Express
More reviews for Ballast on Rotten Tomatoes