Winter’s Bone: Talking Just Causes Witnesses (2010)

Posted: February 1, 2011 in Drama, Thriller

Life in the Ozark Mountains is harsh and dreary. Winter’s Bone looks to capture the poverty-stricken region while providing the parallel in its inhabitants. Ree has become the head of the household after her mother’s mental health has faded and her father has disappeared, attempting to escape the law after getting caught dealing drugs. After a visit from an officer, Ree learns that her family will lose the house if her father does not show up to court. In an attempt to keep the family from falling apart, she sets out to track down her father, going house to house to get any information about his whereabouts. Unfortunately, most of the people are not so supportive of her goal.

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence (Ree), Isaiah Stone (Sonny), Ashlee Thompson (Ashlee), Valerie Richards (Connie), Shelley Waggener (Sonya), Garret Dillahunt (Sheriff Baskin), Lauren Sweetser (Gail), William White (Blond Milton), Cody Brown (Floyd)

While the feel of the movie is fairly dreary and disturbing, Ree (played by Jennifer Lawrence) is the bright spot of the cast. Her personality has been carved by the harsh environment and even harsher people, but she displays a personal strength that defies even the nasty influences. Lawrence plays the role with great confidence and appeals as the only character you can completely like and respect. Teardrop (played by John Hawkes) initially appears to be just as nasty as the other men in the Ozarks but ends up being the only person willing to help Ree find her father. His transformation from another horrible family member to an almost likable human being give a strong presentation of both humility and respect. The remaining cast, outside of the siblings and mother, all appear unapproachable and reflect the abrasive terrain.

The story is simple in all (find her father to save the family) but the subtext is so much more complicated. Director Debra Granik develops a whole secondary story that focuses on the secrets and power struggles of the people of the Ozarks. Each interaction between Ree and the other families seems to end in getting attacked either verbally or physically in an attempt to deny Ree both the equality of power (through providing her assistance) and hide their own indiscretions. Ree’s father appeared to have complicated relationships with many of the other families, both in the drug dealing and other related affairs, though little of this is ever explained (which follows the lack of communication of the characters). This movie definitely paints the people of the Ozark in a very negative light.

While I can appreciate the depiction of the harsh environment and the tale of strength of Ree’s character, the story has a somewhat flat emotional depiction and a fairly underwhelming ending.

Dan’s Rating: 3.0/5

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