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At the end of Out of the Furnace, after Russell lethally shot DeGroat, much to Wesley's dismay, the last shot of the movie shows Russell sitting in his house at the table doing nothing:

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But I'm not sure what to make out of this. Given that Wesley has seen Harlan DeGroat's demise, which was obviously not self-defense but plain cold vengeance, I would have rather assumed Russell to go to prison for that, which this scene seems to contradict. Is this deduction correct? And what else is this scene supposed to tell us about his fate and state of mind? He seems to be looking at some letters on the table, were those letters he wrote or received during his earlier prison time? But why does he look at them now?

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You weren't the only one wondering that; the ending perplexed many. But the film's director Scott Cooper explained it in interviews, like this one. Here's the gist:

After being thwarted by law enforcement officials, Russell kills Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson), the meth-addicted crime boss responsible for murdering his brother, right in front of the local sheriff (Forest Whitaker). Cooper then cuts to Russell sitting quietly in a living room, before fading to black. "It's an homage to 'The Godfather Part II,'" Cooper said, referring to the final shot of Francis Ford Coppola's 1974 Best Picture winner.

"This is a man who is battling his soul and living with the consequences of violence. When he went to kill Harlan DeGroat, he thought he could have gone to prison or be killed by the police. He never thought he would get off and that the sheriff would ultimately say, 'Let me make this right.' And he does," Cooper said of the finale of his film, which takes place at an undated point after Russell has murdered DeGroat. "This is a man who, whether he is [in] prison or not, he's in prison for the rest of his life. Hopefully he will find peace and contentment at some point. I'm a very optimistic person, I hope that, ultimately, Russell Baze does find that."

So the ending simply shows us how Russell, like Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II, will have to live with what he did (and reflect on it) for the rest of his life.

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It's obvious that Russel Baze wasn't arrested after killing DeGroat. The Sherriff stole the love of his life while he was in prison and therefor he let him go to make up for that, also knowing all the misery Russel went through and that DeGroat was nothing but bad news it was the only righteous thing Wesley could do. Russel is dealing with enough misery as it is also outside prison.

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If he were sent to prison then he would look older. He does not really look older so it is likely that he did not go to prison.

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  • I don't know what him looking older has to do with that. The question never implied that he would be sitting at the table after he went to prison for killing DeGroat. But if that's what you assume, you might want to elaborate on that a little more in the answer. Besides that, can you adress the rest of the question a little more, too? If he didn't go to prison for killing DeGroat, then why?
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Mar 13, 2017 at 16:47
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If you remember when he was in prison he would write letters and stacked them up..as if never mailing them. That's the letters are on the table. Wesley never told a soul what really happened out there. First Russel got rid of a scumbag..2nd,yes like they said he stole his women..he knows she loves Russel and his life would be unbearable if he sent him away..she may leave him...a lot of reasons which are really obvious why he didn't.

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I believe Russell being distraught on accidentally killing that child in the auto accident, then dad dying while Russell serves prison, losing Lena the woman he loves, loosing his brother an friend Petty an the old guy that degroat shot in the back room, after Russell shot an killed Degroat remember that dope Russell bought from degroats dope house,, he went home. he sat down at the table stuck the needle in his arm an you know the rest (Overdosed) on purpose.........

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    This seems like a description of events that happen in the film, not an interpretation of the last scene. Can you edit your post to clarify your answer?
    – Joachim
    Jan 16, 2022 at 9:54
  • In the end not wanting to cope with everything that had happened Having a final prayer vigil bfore meeting an causing degroats demise, my time here has also come to an more than ready to leave. Also has a strong drug to do the job
    – Talvegas
    Jan 16, 2022 at 19:11
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I just watched this for the first time. I took Russell's hesitation to shoot the deer while hunting with his uncle as the decision to kill or not kill weighed on him. When he shot DeGroat, he hesitated too but knew knew DeGroat and his kind of evil needed to die regardless of what happened to him after--venegence element cannot be ignored either.

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  • Hi, welcome to Movies & TV. I'm not sure what this has to do with the final scene. The question was about the meaning of the final scene.
    – DavidW
    Feb 19, 2023 at 4:18
  • @DavidW I think it does relate to the ending scene as the answer is postulating that the scene is showing Russell pondering on his actions, even if it doesn't adress the other elements.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Feb 19, 2023 at 11:53

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