Well, granted this didn’t come out in January, but we’re reviewing now anyway. It’s clear this isn’t a January release because it doesn’t suck. It’s way better than anything you’ll likely see until at least Spring. Winter’s Bone, despite it’s name, came out back in the summer. We’re just here to confuse you all.
Well, granted this didn’t come out in January, but we’re reviewing now anyway. It’s out now on DVD. It’s clear this isn’t a January release because it doesn’t suck. It’s way better than anything you’ll likely see until at least Spring. Winter’s Bone, despite it’s name, came out back in the summer. We’re just here to confuse you all. It made a splash at Sundance, and the lead actress, Jennifer Lawrence, is nominated for Best Actress in a Leading role, and it has a nom for Adapted Screenplay as well. Oh, and Best Picture too. So, call this the first discussion of things Oscar.
Winter’s Bone is the story of Ree Dolly (Lawrence) and her search for her meth-dealing father as it seems he’s disappeared. Problem is, he’s put up his house as his jail bond, and if he doesn’t turn up in a week, Ree and her brother and sister and mother will have no place to live.
But Ree’s task will not be an easy one. In the Ozarks, family loyalty is of singular importance and with much of Ree’s kinfolk wrapped up in much the same business as her father, getting information from those who are “supposed to be kin”, as Ree points out more than once, is going to be beyond difficult. It’s downright life-threatening.
Ree has the already difficult task of being 17 years old and having to raise her younger siblings herself, as well as helping to care for her mother, who has become mentally detached and no longer performs her parental duties. With Jessup, Ree’s father missing and return not promising, Ree’s situation is desperate.
I was struck by the sense of immersion I felt in the locations. This part of the country is something I am not familiar with, and though it is picturesque, it is also desolate. Actually, these are really good words to describe the film itself. It focuses on just this place, these people, and their intense form of family code. It isn’t so much about drug dealing in the Ozarks, or any grand social commentary. It’s more about individual choices and how they come in conflict with the deep customs of the people in that area. Ree is deeply determined to find her father despite all the opposition she faces.
The cast here consists of a mixture of industry actors and local people in the area. Frankly, everyone is wonderful. Though there is nary a smile amongst them, everyone does their part. Lawrence as Ree is perhaps a heroine of Grecian proportion. And you can’t help but feel for her as she tries to save her and her family’s situation from dire consequences. John Hawkes plays her uncle, Garret Dillahunt has a role as the sheriff, and I include them in fine performances.
Winter’s Bone is probably unlike any of the other films in the Oscar runnings as it feels very independent and more raw than the others. But in that, it feels so much more immediate and natural. This is a really good film and I could easily give it four and a half kittenhands. I highly recommend it.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, giving a good review for a movie not released in January. Figures.