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Winter's Bone

Winter's Bone

What She said:

She

Winter’s Bone is a performance driven drama that tells the story of a 17 year old girl, Ree Dolly, growing up in the poverty and drug-ridden Ozarks of Missouri.  Her father, who is a Meth cook, skips bail and disappears, abandoning his family and leaving them at risk of losing their home.  Ree’s mother suffers from mental illness, and she has a young brother and sister to care for on her own.  All this to handle, while also dealing with going to school and planning her own future. 

When Ree hears that her father put the house up as bond for his release from prison, she tries to do everything in her power to make him show up for court.  She attempts to track him down, asking around with family (it seems everyone in the Ozarks is distantly related), but to no avail.  Not only does she have a hard time finding him, but the fact that she’s even inquiring about his whereabouts ruffles some feathers.  Her father’s shady dealings threaten the safety of Ree and her family.  She has to choose between losing everything or putting herself at risk by digging into her father’s baggage.  Her journey is quite interesting.

Winter’s Bone is a somber story.  Even if Ree succeeds, her best case scenario is more of the same.  There’s hope that she may be able to get away and join the Army, but then you wonder what would happen to her brother and sister.  While it seems that everyone around her is involved with drugs and sleazy dealings, Ree and her siblings are attempting to lead clean and good lives.  You can’t help but feel pessimistic about their long-term prospects for escape, but you’ll remain hopeful.

Jennifer Lawrence puts in a fantastic performance, and you can tell she has quite a future ahead of her.  The movie has a bunch of no-name actors in it, but they all are fantastic.  They look and feel the role, and there’s a lot of ruthlessness.  You have to remind yourself that these people are supposed to be related.  They’re so moody, disrespectful, and dangerous.  I guess that’s the ultimate toll of poverty and drugs. 

Not a truly pleasureful movie, but gripping and memorable nonetheless.

Thumbs up.

What he said:

He

Jennifer Lawrence is blowing up. She starred in last summer’s blockbuster (and critically acclaimed) superhero flick, X-Men First Class. In just a few months, she will be starring in the highly anticipated film adaptation of The Hunger Games.  Before all of that though, she starred in this little movie called Winter’s Bone.

The movie is about a drug-ridden community in the Ozark Moutains region of Missouri. I’m talking about some genuine poverty going on here. It looks like something out of a post-apocalyptic movie. Besides said problems, the area also suffers from a highly paranoid culture that adheres to all kinds of unspoken rules and social hierarchies; many of which revolve remaining quiet about the plethora of illegal activities going on. Yet surprisingly, it’s actually quite the gossipy little town.

So when Ree (Jennifer Lawrence) needs to speak with her estranged father, she runs into a variety of responses.  Ree’s father is known for being one of the best meth cooks in town. Unbeknownst to her and the rest of her family, he put their house on the line to post bail. One day a bounty hunter comes a knockin’ and being the caretaker for her mother and two younger siblings, she needs to find him and fast. First she turns to her uncle and father’s brother, Teardrop (John Hawkes). When he refuses to help her she’s forced to travel from one junkie to the next. The more people become aware, the more trouble she’s causing; at least in their eyes. Before long, she ends up attracting the attention of local crime boss, Thump Milton.

Did I mention that most of these people are related? It only adds to the fun.

I don’t want to go to much more in-depth about the movie, because I think it’s worth it not to spoil it for you. It’s a very well-done movie; the kind you don’t want spoiled. It has a very authentic feel to it. The look and feel of it is very real. The performances are also very believable. The whole movie is just loaded with grit and realism. You will feel like you are really in this hell on Earth.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on January 18, 2012.

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