Movie Review: Winter’s Bone (2010)

Posted: April 8, 2012 in Drama
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Ree Dolly (Jennifer Laurence)  has had a hard life.  At the tender age of 17, growing up in rural Missouri, Ree has been forced to take care of her younger siblings, Sonny  (Isaiah Stone) and Ashlee (Ashlee Thompson) as well as her catatonic mother.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, Ree’s father Jessup has skipped his bond hearing and put up Ree’s house as security for the bond. Jessup runs a Meth Lab, and is now apparently on the run from Sheriff Baskin(Garret Deahunt) and the bail bondsman named Satterfield (Tate Taylor)  Ree’s father doesn’t believe that Jessup has run away, but she needs proof, so Ree starts asking some unsavory friends and family about Jessup’s whereabouts.

Ree begins her inquiry by visiting her uncle Teardrop (John Hawkes) When Teardroop is initially unwilling to help Ree, Ree continues her questioning alone, questioning Jessup’s friend Little Arthur (Kevin Breznahan)  and distant family member, Thump Milton (Ronnie Hall) Not only are they not helping Ree to find Jessup, Thump’s wife threatens Ree with physical  harm if she comes back to visit Thump.   Thump’s wife follows through on her threat and beats up Ree when Ree tries to ask Thump some questions about her father.  At this point Uncle Teardrop rescues Ree, and tries to figure out what happened to his brother Jessup.  Do the find the truth in time to save Ree’s house and keep Ree’s family intact?

This is a bleak, dark and dour film.  Very few of its characters are in any way likeable, that in itself makes the movie hard to watch.  The movie is also set in rural Missouri in the Ozarks, and rural people are not always shown in the most flattering light.  Teardrop’s wife offers Ree a joint, Teardrop offers Ree cocaine, Jessup cooks methamphetamine, Ree shoots, skins, and eats squirrels, a truly disgusting sight.  Is this the way rural people want to be portrayed, as squirrel shooting eating, drug taking individuals? If these stereotypes were depicted with other groups there would be uproar.  Also this movie doesn’t make me care enough about the plight of their family.  Lots of people lose their homes, and the people that do are not drug manufacturers.  Also, what makes Ree so fiercely loyal to Jessup?  We don’t see the Jessup character at all, and that made it harder for me to humanize him.  What makes this film worth watching is the gripping, touching, heart wrenching performance of Jennifer Lawrence.  She is tough and sensitive all at once and her performance is a marvel.  The viewer will definitely root for her to succeed against all odds.

Winter’s Bone.  Mostly left me cold.

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