is a gloomy film filled with ugly characters Ė and not just because of
their lack of dental hygiene. Director Debra Granik lays bare the sparse
and unwelcoming Missouri landscape, complete with its hopeless
inhabitants, and itís not pretty. Yet somehow she encourages you to
invest in this raw and unflinching world without attempting to
sugar-coat it for the audience.
Based on the
novel by Daniel Woodrell, the film tells the story of 17-year-old Ree
Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) as she struggles to provide for her younger
siblings and incapacitated mother after their drug-dealing father
Jessopís abandonment. The local Sheriff informs Ree that Jessop
forfeited the house for his bail bond and if he doesnít return to stand
trial, the family will be evicted from their home. What follows is Reeís
relentless mission to find her father and keep her family together.
Director Debra Granik deftly captures the lonely,
spare Missouri landscape.
act of this film is a little slow and slightly laborious. As Ree sets
about tracking down her father, we are introduced to a series of
characters with little information on her fatherís whereabouts,
eliciting a feeling of narrative stagnation. Each character is as
distasteful as the next and itís hard to swallow the brutality with
which these people treat one another. The heart of this film is without
a doubt the determination of Ree and the unconditional love she has for
her family. She goes through hell just to find her father and no one
seems willing to help her. Her fierce uncle Teardrop (John Hawkes) is
initially presented as a monstrous character, but as Reeís search
intensifies their relationship becomes quite bittersweet. Itís one of
the more memorable aspects of the film.
Itís the moments between Ree (Jennifer Lawrence)
and her siblings that really strike a chord.
help but feel that there was something missing in Winterís Bone.
This isnít due to the filmís unhurried pacing or depressing context. The
main problem was the amount of attention paid to the supporting
characters. They slowly drive the plot but the human element that is so
strongly captured in Lawrenceís performance.
a satisfying feat when filmmakers can realistically capture relatable
human relationships. Granik gives us fleeting moments between Ree and
her siblings, but they are always left unexplored. Striking moments
include Ree teaching her brother and sister how to handle a gun and the
deeply moving final scene which perfectly captures the Granikís
minimalist approach. This movie would have been much more enjoyable if
the focus was shifted to the beautiful chemistry between Lawrence and
these wonderful young actors. Winterís Bone is certainly worth
watching, but many may find it forgettable despite its subtle poignancy.