Winter’s Bone (DVD)
Label: Artificial Eye
Time: 100 minutes
Life is tough for Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) in the Ozarks of Missouri. Only seventeen, she has an almost catatonic mother who needs full time care, two younger siblings to look after and no father in sight.
That turns out to be her biggest problem. A key player in the meth-cooking community, he is due to appear in court and has put up the family home as bail. If he fails to show – as history suggests he might – Ree and her family lose the very little they have. Ree has about a week to find him.
She is not likely to get help from her family. Many in the drug community are related to her, if only a little, but when she starts asking after her father, the relatives show little compunction in lying, handing her out violence (she should have heeded their warnings) and threatening worse.
Contrasted with the drug-fuelled locals, Ree stands out as someone with resilience, courage and a keen sense of responsibility for her siblings, aged six and twelve. You get the feeling that if anything happened to her or the house, the children would have a bleak future. When she teaches her brother to skin squirrels (sometimes their only food), he tells her that he doesn’t want to get his hands on the entrails. When she replies, “Sonny, there’s a bunch of stuff that you’re going to have to get over being scared of,” we know that she has in mind more than just rodent guts. She represents hope and her stubborn determination draws the viewer into her world, really caring about her character.
The hardened meth community seems either unable – or simply unused – to showing affection. A remark or slightly too much foolhardiness can bring out surprising violence, leaving Ree exposed and vulnerable. At times, chinks of softness break through their cast-iron exteriors, and sometimes from unexpected sources.
Lawrence deserves her Oscar nomination as she convincingly portrays Ree’s steely grit, broken only by a rare trickle of tears in the face of her hopeless predicament. John Hawkes quietly earns his nod as her menacing and unpredictable Uncle Teardrop. But I rate the score as highly as the acting. The sparse soundtrack heightens the tension and you really notice the contrast when Ree happens upon a birthday party and the music changes to lively bluegrass.
This movie is a harrowing trail of resistance to the pressures that would hem us in and reveals glimpses of hope and redemption. As if by reverse osmosis, this constantly engaging film draws out the hope in its viewers.
My preview disc had no extras, but the DVD and Blu-Ray are due an alternative ending and music video along with the usual deleted scenes, trailer and ‘making of’ featurette.
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