Film: Winter's Bone
Cast includes: Jennifer Lawrence (The Bill Engvall Show), John Hawkes (The Perfect Storm), Dale Dickey (Changeling)
Writer/Director: Debra Granik (Down to the Bone)
Genre: Drama (2010)
In brief: Without the illegal meth labs, most folks in this desolate Ozark community would probably starve to death. Seventeen-year-old Ree Dolly can barely keep her mother, brother and sister fed. And now, the sheriff is coming around telling her that if her daddy doesn’t show up in court next week, his bail will be forfeited. This is the first Ree’s heard about the bail and the fact that their house and land were put up as collateral for the bond. Ree doesn’t know where her daddy’s at, but she’d best figure out how to find him if she doesn’t want things to get even worse.
Even though Ree hasn’t seen her daddy lately, she figures she needs to try and find him. Her uncle, Teardrop, says he “don’t know where he’s at, and he ain’t going to go asking after him, neither.” Ree finds nothing but dead ends… which would be bad enough… but she’s also stirring up a heap of trouble. You’d think folks would want to help Ree. After all, most folks in this community “probably share the same blood. Don’t that mean something?” But Ree learns “talking just causes witnesses… and they don’t need any of those.” Maybe Ree should pay attention when people are telling her she’d best shut up.
Be prepared to go to a very bleak place… a place where a good day is having a squirrel to fry up for supper. These days, there are a lot of dark, depressing movies around, but few transport us out of our comfort zone like Winter’s Bone. The brutal realism of the production style, as well as, the acting style make this one difficult to watch… and difficult to forget. Do places like this really exist in the US? I’m told they absolutely do. That may be why it’s so uncomfortable watching this story play out. It’s a beautifully done glimpse into an ugly, ugly world most of us wouldn’t want to see first hand.
3 popped kernels
Flawlessly developed, but painful to watch
Primary Audience: Grown-ups
Gender Appeal: Any audience
Distribution: Art house
Tempo: In no hurry
Visual Style: Unvarnished realism
Character Development: Intense
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Thought provoking