has a chilly, sordid lived-in feel that isolates it from most Hollywood
product. A downbeat, violent and dirty look at life in the underbelly of
the new South, it also includes one of the best new performances of the year
and enough intriguing twists and turns to make it necessary viewing for fans
of realistic indie fare like last year’s Frozen River.
great new performance comes from Jennifer Lawrence, a teenaged actor with
skills well beyond her years. She plays Ree Dolly, a seventeen-year-old
girl who grew up in trailer-trash Missouri and now
has to care for her younger brother and sister and her mentally unstable
mother. Her father is in the wind – once again apparently on the run to
avoid prosecution for his part in the local meth trade, a shadowy and
dangerous vocation which seems to be the dirty little secret of pretty much
everyone in the area.
has been taught by a whole life of hard lessons to ignore what is going on
in the ramshackle shacks and barns around her. However, when a sheriff’s
deputy lets her know that if her absentee father does not show up for his
trial, they will lose the rundown family home, which dad had used for
collateral. As the house is pretty much all the family has and she can’t
imagine raising the kids and caring for their mother while they are all
homeless, Ree takes it upon herself to track down her dad – despite the fact
that extended family, friends and neighbors strongly try to convince her
that she is best off not knowing what has become of her father. She is lied
to, cursed and beaten, however Ree will not give up until she has saved her
you can tell from the description, Winter’s Bone – which was based on
a novel Daniel Woodrell – and surprisingly written and directed by women –
is a dirty, sad, depressing, violent film. Yet with its amazingly realistic
sense of place and quirky, fascinating characters it is also an intriguing
and touching one.
is made all the more impressive for the mostly unknown cast. The only real
“name” actors here are in supporting roles – Garret Dillahunt as a
perhaps-corrupt lawman and Sheryl Lee of Twin Peaks as one of the
dad’s exes. However Lawrence and her castmates have a world-weariness and a
realism that is all too rare in films.
Ozark Mountain world of Winter’s Bone is
not one you would probably want to visit in real life, but from the safety
of a theater, the area exerts a strong, narcotic fascination and dread.
doesn’t always have to show the beauty of life. Sometimes it is more
important to impart the squalor and dismay of an existence – and the
eventual small triumphs. On this level, Winter’s Bone succeeds
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2010 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: August 3, 2010.