Review: Winter's Bone


Directed by: Debra Granik
Written by:Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Kevin Breznahan, Dale Dickey, Garret Dillahunt, Shelley Waggener
Released: November 18, 2010
Grade: A-

Ree Dolly (Lawrence) is a 17-year-old who lives with her sick mother and her two younger siblings.  They’re from a small community who live in the Ozark Mountains.  To call their situation bleak would be an understatement.  Their house is old and shabby.  They’ve got virtually no money.  They rely on the charity of neighbours to put food on the table.

Life’s tough… and it’s about to get even tougher.  Ree’s father, who was charged with drug-dealing offences, has skipped town.  The bail bondsman arrives at their doorstep and informs Ree that her father put up the home has security.  If he isn’t located, then the house will be seized and sold.  They’ll be out on the street with no where to live.

Ree would love to never see her father again.  The two didn’t get along.  Unfortunately, that’s not an option given the circumstances.  She’s got to track him down and help bring him into custody.  It’s the only way of saving the home and keeping her fragile family together.

When Ree starts asking questions around town, she gets a frosty reception (and I’m not talking about the weather).  Drug trafficking is the number one business in town and the residents want to keep it that way.  They don’t want Ree to find her father.  They’re worried that he’ll bring them all down if he’s caught and forced to talk to the authorities.

Winter’s Bone is a simple story but it’s told very effectively.  It’s the kind of movie that pulls you into its setting and doesn’t let go.  The emotions of the characters come through strongly and you’ll feel their same sense of frustration and hopelessness.

20-year-old Jennifer Lawrence has been touted as a possible Academy Award nominee and it's not hard to see why.  She's amazing in the leading role.  Ree goes through much suffering (both physically and mentally) and you can’t help but feel sympathetic.  It’s tough to watch at times but you’ll be glued to screen – hoping that something might finally go her way.

Winner of a Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Winter’s Bone is a bleak film but it's also a moving film.