Winter’s Bone (Debra Granik – 2010) A

I doubt Jennifer Lawrence will win the oscar for this flick this Sunday, but I so am rooting for her. She delivers a subtle and effective performance as Ree, the seventeen-year old looking for her meth-cooking dad in the cold Ozarks. He put the house up to cover his bond and seemingly skipped town. If he does not show up (dead or alive) Ree, her siblings and mom are going to lose everything. It’s not such a unique story line really. We’ve seen it before, but days after seeing it I still am fascinated by the slow progression of the film through it’s unique setting in the Ozarks and its host of real characters. The bleak setting  (cold, poor, not a single convenience “anything” in sight) stands in stark contrast to Ree’s optimism and her little siblings cheerfulness playing on an old trampoline. She simply knows she will solve this problem because she has to. The fact that she is 17, her dad is a deadbeat and her mom is useless is besides the point. When she couldn’t borrow a car, she walks, when she is told to stay out of it she pushes harder, when her brother and sister are hungry she teaches them to shoot, eviscerate and cook a few squirrels.

It’s that kind of film that is most effective, the one that focuses on a character, puts her in a specific setting and gets the viewers hooked. I have not even mentioned the slew of odd, scary and sometimes gentle characters she encounters, especially her uncle, Teardrop. He is not a particularly nice guy, but he’s nice enough. Teardrop is probably Ree when she is 50 years old.

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