Winter’s Bone (2010)

“I’d be lost without the weight of you two on my back. I ain’t going anywhere.”

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes and Garret Dillahunt

This must be one of the hardest games of hide’n’seek ever.

Ree Dolly is on a mission to locate her father, a deadbeat druggie who has declared his house as his bail-bond. With a severely depressed and unresponsive mother and 2 younger siblings to look after, Ree has struggled to keep her family intact, especially with no income. Now with the threat of being kicked out of their house, Ree must find her father and persuade him to make his court date otherwise they’re out on their heels.

Winter’s Bone is a truely unfinching and harsh film. Set in the Ozark Mountain’s, this hillbilly/ horror/ drug type genre takes no mercy. As Ree searches from one place to the next place, each less inviting than the one before, we are shown the lengths that these ‘clients’ of her father will go to, to keep Ree from finding the truth. It ain’t pretty. Ree is stubborn and tough, especially for a 17 year old, which often leads her into dangerous situations, but this is when we see her honest and true love for her family and their welfare shine through.

John Hawkes, who plays the terrifying Teardrop, does so with an ease and excellence. Maybe my favourite role in the film, he’s unforgiving, intense and completely nuts. Jennifer Lawrence also pulls off what I believe to be her best role yet. The connection between Ree and her 2 younger siblings who she’s having to raise is so natural and honestly a complete joy to watch. This little family is so tightly knit and has so much potential, the scene where Ree is teaching them how to shoot a crossbow is my favourite. The three of them were cast perfectly and this scene is a prime example of this.

Winter’s Bone, while in places seems slow paced, is full of a vibrancy intertwined in its dull setting. The stark background, out in the country and lacking the technology that seems to overwhelm modern day films, really does it a favour. It allows the story to be told boldly and nothing distracts from its harsh facts, the winter background is the perfect fit.

While it won’t be for everyone, you can’t deny this film does a great job. From the story to the setting to the casting of some great actors, Winter’s Bone is a fantastic film that allows Lawrence to shows us her stuff. Hopefully we’ll be seeing much more of her in the future.

Star rating:  7/10

Directed by Debra Granik.

Running time 100 minutes.

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