Movie Review: Winter’s Bone (2010)

Winter’s Bone (2010)
100 minutes
Rated – R
Directed by Debra Granik
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes

Grade:  A-

Set in the Ozarks, which aside from the electricity and automobiles looks like a post-apocalyptic world, there is a poor family hanging to life on a thread. Ree Dolly is a 17-year-old girl who has grown up quickly to become the main caretaker of the family because the mom is practically brain-dead and the father is a meth cooker who hasn’t been seen in quite a while. Ree has a younger brother of twelve and a sister of six. She does everything in her power to shield them from the fact that they are struggling to survive.

If things aren’t bad enough, a sheriff informs Ree that her dad, Jessup, has put their house up as bond. If he doesn’t appear at court in a few days, and it’s almost certain that he won’t, the house will be stripped from the family. “I’ll find him,” is what Ree says. She speaks with a quiet confidence that covers the fear of her family being torn apart. She has no choice but to do so.

Ree sets out on a search for her father. She has no idea where he is and has little faith she can actually track him down, but that doesn’t stop her from trying. Throughout her search we’re shown a number of frightening characters, many whom are distant family members to Ree. What’s interesting here are how no one trusts anyone, family or not. Ree keeps her pursuit for answers even though she’s told many times to stop. She knows she cannot.

Jessup’s brother, Teardrop, plays an important supporting role in the film. He seems to have an idea what happened to Jessup but has no intention on helping Ree. Whether he’s protecting her or protecting himself is up for debate, but that seems to be everyone’s underlying motive for not helping Ree.

Writer-director Debra Granik takes care of the story and brings you in to the point where you forget that you’re watching a movie. In the lead role, Jennifer Lawrence gives a superb performance as Ree. She is certainly one of my favorite heroines I’ve watched in a long time. Her command of responsibility while facing danger at every turn is something to be motivated from. Lawrence has a very promising future based on this role alone.

Winter’s Bone is a classically told story of a broken down family in a tough situation. But through all the unfriendly faces and the times one can be pushed around, there is someone who helps. The film expresses a subtle hope that anyone can relate to.

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