Winter in Montana and everything breaks down. Just days after his estranged father dies, Roy Chutney (Ryan Gosling) gets cut from his high school football team. Football, for Roy, meant more than a proving ground- it promised escape from his lonely rural existence and salvation from the passivity that dominates his life.
Joined by his best friend, Tracy Two Dogs (Eddie Spears), a Blackfoot Indian with no small trouble of his own, Roy drowns his frustration in a mixture of tequila and selfpity. But in Blue Springs, Montana, alcohol begets violence, and the soon-reached limits of small-town Saturday night only add brutality to Roy's despair.
Enter Gideon Ferguson (David Morse), a canny giant of a man who ekes out a life among
barflies, hawking newspapers in the two a.m. nether world of closing time.
Gid is seeking "gamers"-kids who scrap hard- to play on his Six-Man football
squad, and he recruits Roy to be his quarterback.
Over the course of the season, Gid and Roy enter into a tenuous friendship. For Gid, the football team provides a sense of purpose in a life nearly bled dry. For Roy, the game is a pure response to life - if you break enough tackles and keep sprinting for open ground, you might outrun your inside trouble. It's as if they complete each other: Roy permits Gid a dimension of grace, a glimmer of innocence Gid has never known; Gid grants Roy a portal into adulthood.
Entering Gid's world, Roy becomes witness to a tender side of Gid, who
constantly looks after his old pal Studebaker (David Cale), a sad-luck drifter. More
importantly for Roy, the honky-tonk nightlife introduces him to Skyla (Clea Duvall), a
darkeyed bartender several years Roy's senior. Their burgeoning romance and Roy's growing friendship with Gid collide, complicating all of their lives.
The Slaughter Rule is a rough season in a young man's life, a season of
exposure, prejudice, and ultimately - compassion.