Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Winter's Bone

Debra Granik’s “Winter’s Bone” was the best American film of last year and Jennifer Lawrence was the best actress in a leading role. “Winter’s Bone” is a Film Noir set in the Ozarks, a transplanted piece of Appalachia in Missouri. This is poor White rural America where cooking meth has replaced making moonshine.

Lawrence plays Ree Dolly, a 17 year old girl who is now the de facto head of her family. Her father, a meth cooker, has disappeared and her mother, unable to deal with the violence of the family business, has retreated into Catatonia. Ree is responsible for taking care of  her mother, a little brother and an even littler sister. They are barely scraping by when Ree learns that their missing father has put up their house and land as a bail guarantee. And he hasn’t shown up for his court date. If Ree doesn’t find him they’ll be homeless.

Everyone she approaches seems to be distantly related to her but no one will give her any help. Even her father’s brother, Uncle Teardrop refuses. Then he changes his mind. John Hawks plays Teardrop, a slender, tired looking man who nonetheless induces fear in all the hard cases he comes in contact with. He’s been in prison, for what we never learn, but we suspect it was something scary. Speaking of scary, Dale Dickey, the actress who plays Merab, has a face that looks like it was chopped out of oak with a hatchet. She has a wonderful role and fills it.

The texture of the film is cold but lovely. Frozen woods and fields with horses contrasting with cluttered houses. There's some very nice traditional music in it also.

Since I want my faithful readers to see the movie I’ll go ahead and tell you that Ree goes through some real ordeals in her quest but in the end she is smarter and braver than any of the people who underestimate her. She finds what she needs.


¡ máirtín ! said...

I enjoyed the book way more than the movie (There were two twin brothers in the book).

Bureau Chief said...

Were Ree's dad and Teardrop the twins?