Down to the Bone (film)

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Down to the Bone
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Debra Granik
Produced by
Written by
Cinematography Michael McDonough
Edited by Malcolm Jamieson
  • Susie Q Productions
  • Down to the Bone Productions
Distributed by Hart Sharp Video
Release dates
Running time
104 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $500,000[1]
Box office $30,241[2]

Down to the Bone is a 2004 American independent drama film, directed by Debra Granik and written by Granik and Richard Lieske. It stars Vera Farmiga, who received a Best Actress Award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association for her role as the drug addicted Irene. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 15, 2004, where it won the Director's Award (Debra Granik) and the Special Jury Prize for Acting (Vera Farmiga).


A woman stuck in a stale marriage struggles to raise her children and manage her secret drug habit. But when winter comes to her small town, her balancing act begins to come crashing down.


  • Vera Farmiga as Irene
  • Hugh Dillon as Bob
  • Clint Jordan as Steve
  • Caridad de la Luz as Lucy
  • Jasper Daniels as Ben
  • Taylor Foxhall as Jason
  • Terry McKenna as Gene
  • Richard Lieske as Richard
  • Hector Vasquez as Hector
  • Joel Saeks as Lars
  • Walt Bolde as Walt
  • Edward Crawford as Kevin


The film, which addresses the effects of drug addiction, was directed and co-written by Debra Granik. The film takes place in upstate New York and was filmed in and around Kingston, New York. Down to the Bone is Granik's first feature film and was filmed on digital video. Granik went on to direct the 2010 Oscar nominated film Winter's Bone.


Box office[edit]

Down to the Bone was given a limited release in the United States. The film made a total of $7,352 in its opening weekend from two theaters. It made an additional $22,889 from film screenings, for a total domestic gross of $30,241.[2]

Critical response[edit]

The film has received critical acclaim from film critics. It currently holds a 94% approval rating based on 33 reviews on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus stating: "A vivid portrayal of the effects of drug abuse that avoids cinematic clichés, Down to the Bone is a winning effort by first-time director Debra Granik and features a breakout performance by Vera Farmiga."[3] On Metacritic, the film scored a 76 out of 100 rating based on 13 reviews.[4]

San Francisco Chronicle critic G. Allen Johnson gave a positive review, writing: "Rarely is a shoestring-budget movie as maturely directed and well-acted as Down to the Bone, an intriguing film about a normal working woman trying to kick a cocaine habit. The film is so pitch perfect and realistic, it seems you are there with these people, watching their lives unfold before you as it happens."[5] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly also praised the film, stating: "From movies, you'd never guess the degree to which drug addiction is a small-town pastime. Vera Farmiga, the star of Down to the Bone, has the face of the world's saddest Madonna, and she's flat-out remarkable as Irene, a financially strapped mother of two who works as a cashier at a megamart-style superstore and snorts cocaine to get through the day. Irene's long straight hair has begun to turn stringy, and she rarely wears makeup, but beneath her sallow skin and dead eyes, you can glimpse the carefree, pretty, slightly hip party girl she once must have been."[6]


Year Award Category Recipient Result
2004 BendFilm Festival Best Actress Vera Farmiga Won
Marrakech International Film Festival Best Actress Won
Golden Star Debra Granik Nominated
Sundance Film Festival Directing Award – Drama Won
Special Jury Prize for Acting Vera Farmiga Won
Grand Jury Prize Debra Granik Nominated
Deauville Film Festival Grand Special Prize Nominated
Florida Film Festival Grand Jury Award – Best Narrative Feature Won
Gotham Awards Breakthrough Director Nominated
Locarno International Film Festival Golden Leopold Nominated
Vienna International Film Festival FIPRESCI Prize Won
2005 Film Independent Spirit Awards Best Female Lead Vera Farmiga Nominated
John Cassavetes Award Debra Granik, Richard Lieske, Susan Leber, Anne Rosellini Nominated
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards Best Actress Vera Farmiga Won
2006 National Society of Film Critics Awards Best Actress Nominated


  1. ^ "The Scariest Four-Letter Word in American Storytelling". This Distracted Globe. July 19, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b "Down to the Bone (2005)". Box Office Mojo. 
  3. ^ "Down to the Bone - Rotten Tomatoes". Flixster, Inc. Retrieved April 7, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Down to the Bone (2005) - Reviews". Metacritic. 
  5. ^ "Drug drama steers clear of all-too tempting pitfalls". San Francisco Chronicle. December 16, 2005. 
  6. ^ "Down to the Bone Review". Entertainment Weekly. November 30, 2005. 

External links[edit]