Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Movie Review: Winter's Bone (2010)

Winter's Bone (2010)

Director - Debra Granik
100 Min; R
Ree - Jennifer Lawrence
Teardrop - John Hawkes
Merab - Dale Dickey

It is easy to see why Winter's Bone won both the 2010 Sundance Film Festival award for Grand Jury Prize as well as the Waldo Salt Screenwriting award. It is not as easy to watch the film without digging a little deep within yourself to appreciate the film art in front of you. I suspect the subject matter and the way it is filmed will not sit well with a general viewing audience, so I caution anyone considering this film that they understand what they are getting into: a real world of bleak hopelessness in which a child is forced to grow up all too quickly, a family is forced to face demons, and in the end, maybe, just maybe, a small amount of hope can be squeezed from frozen stone.

Jennifer Lawrence plays 17 year old Ree, a girl who has gone through more turmoil than anyone should experience in a lifetime. Her family lives in a pretty run down home in the Ozark mountains and with her father out of the picture on bond for meth production, she is left to raise her two younger siblings and her mom, who has basically checked out of reality and is now a walking zombie. Her neighbors and seemingly inbred family are all around her world, some offering a little help, most offering nothing. With their home and property up as bond for her father to appear in court, Ree realizes that he is never going to show and they will lose everything they have (what little they have, but it is truly everything for their survival) and she sets out on a journey to discover where he is, dead or alive, and to make sure they don’t lose it all.

Plot points aside, this is a film about dialogue, acting, and hardships. John Hawkes as the down and out Teardrop who helps Ree with as little as he can is magnificent, and Dale Dickey as Merab, Ree’s relative of some sort is as tender as she is wicked, and Ree feels both emotions first hand. Jennifer Lawrence truly shines in this film as a young girl who must be completely confused and hardened by her life results, yet she is keeping it all together as best she can, teaching her brother and sister survival techniques of shooting squirrels and how to make them into stew. This isn’t a heart-warming tale, but there is some hope involved, though very little, and in the end it may just be two baby chicks in the hands of the younger children that leave you pulling for this family, for Ree.

**** and ½ out of 5

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