|Winter's Bone (USA; 100 min.)
directed by: Debra Granik
starring: Jennifer Lawrence; John Hawkes; Lauren Sweetser; Shelley Waggener; Kevin Breznehan; Dale Dickey
Michael says: "Got out to the Independent Film Festival of Boston tonight, and was not disappointed by Debra Granik’s outstanding WINTER’S BONE. This taut, atmospheric drama has already racked up some awards at Sundance and Berlin, and I sure hope Roadhouse Attractions gets it out there in theatres for people to see. Granik and Anne Rosellini adapt a novel by Daniel Woodrell and in addition to a strong screenplay, effectively use authentic locations, local color, music, and terrific performances to make one all-around successful movie. Ree is a seventeen-year-old girl raising her two younger siblings and caring for her mentally disturbed mother in the woods of Missouri. This is an area that is still governed by feuding families reminiscent of the Hatfields and the McCoys. Ree’s family is under threat of losing their home unless Ree can produce her deadbeat father, dead or alive. Her attempts at finding him are blocked by her very large extended family, from her Uncle Teardrop who suffers from a hair-trigger temper and a crank addiction, to distant relatives whose family rules the area. After a particularly nasty beating, Ree is ready to give up, and even attempts to join the army hoping the promised $40,000 can save her two younger siblings. When that fails and hope seems lost, aid comes from an unlikely source, and the day is saved… but not without some serious drama along the way.
"There is so much to praise about WINTER’S BONE. Jennifer Lawrence is wonderfully effective at Ree, tough and determined, but still possessing the vulnerability of a teenager in over her head. John Hawkes (Deadwood; Lost) gives Teardrop much needed depth and layers, so his behavior never seems unbelievable. The several women who populate the area are surprisingly compelling in their supporting roles and are ultimately revealed to be the real doers in the Ozark dynasty. I was thrilled to see Sheryl Lee (Twin Peaks) in a small role as Ree’s father’s former lover, and she acquits herself well. My favorite of the bunch is Dale Dickey as the ruling family’s matriarch, Marab. Tough as flint, yet with hidden compassion, she’s utterly convincing, and a joy to watch on screen.
"In addition to the performances, Granik is deft at constructing a real sense of place through images, sounds, and music. Clearly Granik worked closely with the Missouri natives, who added important authenticity with their locations, their homes, their livestock and clearly their knowledge. WINTER’S BONE is a real winner, and is definitely worthy of this reviewer’s 5 cats"
Jason says: "The music on the soundtrack specifies Missouri, but that's not what's important; it's the mournful single female voice and barely-there accompaniment that tells us what we need to know about the setting for Winter's Bone: It's chilly, there's nothing fancy to be found, but there's love and loyalty there too.
"Seen 23 April 2010 at the Somerville Theater #1 (Independent Film Festival of Boston)"
Thom says: "Besides the raves from Chlotrudis stalwarts, the San Francisco Chronicle lead film reviewer Mick LaSalle called WINTER’S BONE the best film so far in 2010. The average rating on www.us.imdb.com of the film is 8.3, also a high rating. So off I went to the film last Saturday expecting the world. To say I was horribly disappointed is putting it mildly. Without a doubt the acting is first rate in this thriller but my appreciation of the film ends there. In the film a 17-year-old girl is searching for her disappeared father to get him back for his court hearing because he put the house up for a jail bond. But the other people running through this dull script are inbred, violent, drug dealers of the suburban type, and to call them downright uninteresting is the highest praise they deserve. Our heroine appears to have nothing going on in her life of any worth. Is she going to school? Is taking care of her younger brother & sister all she does with her time? Does she have any plans to better herself, to get out of her life of trapped misery? If indeed these types exist they simply weren’t worth my time. And then there was the scene where big sister was teaching her younger brother to shoot a gun, huh? Was this supposed to be laudable? Through the entire film I kept expecting some revelation, any revelation, and then the film was over. I walked out in shock. 2 cats"
Jason responds: "I can't say your opinion is wrong, but I think a lot of your complaints seem to come from a misapprehension of just how close to the bone the characters in the movie are:
Michael responds: "As one of the people who is raving about WINTER'S BONE, I have to say that
I'm stunned that you find the characters in this film uninteresting. I
find the characters probably the most interesting thing about the film!
Thom responds: "I have the questionable characteristic of always placing myself in any film I watch and if I was anywhere near any of the people in the film I would run away as fast and as far as I could. And that’s how I felt about this downbeat film. Doesn’t everyone in the world wish someone would take care of them? The point is that everyone needs to get over this and learn how to care for themselves. Joining the Army would be the worst possible solution for the girl."
Lisa responds: "Michael -
You are absolutely right about this film. I thought it was a very accurate portrayal of people living in those latitudes of the flyover zone. I loved the characters, the dream sequence, and all the details that told me this director knew what she was talking about."
|Julie says: "I loved this film and so far it's the best most memorable film I've seen this year (although as usual I spent most of the year catching up on 2009, but in any case!).
I agree with Michael's review. Couldn't have put it any better.
I found it particularly appealing and entertaining how the women in these families did almost all of the important
communicating and 'are the real doers in the Ozark dynasty' as Michael put it.
"The only male character who really stood out was John Hawkes as Teardrop. Hawkes did an excellent job portraying a character you'll most likely change your opinion about through the film.
"For me, the scene where Ree teaches her siblings to shoot was also and maybe foremost about teaching them how to survive not only for food but for defensive needs in case it came down that. Many of her actions were toward ensuring they'd be self sufficient if need be.
"Her plan to join the military seemed initially to try to better herself and get a marketable skill and possibly education. A desperate move in the end to get money yes.
"I happen to know from personal experience that many people have no other choice than to join the military to better themselves. I've met some very interesting, intelligent and cultured people who came from backwoods places and they can have great ideas and talent. They are not all boring and mundane. And I found the major characters in the movie quite intriguing with depth and complexity. Loved the two kids as well. I think the director did a great job with the kids (and animals!).
"The other interesting thing that Michael also mentioned was that some of the minor characters were from the town. I thought they did an excellent job.
"The film is gonna win lots of awards! I thought it was perfect in every way. Acting, cinematography,music, story. Outstanding!
"I'm looking at the making of the film right now- Even that part is so well done! It's a work of art in and of itself!