Friday, November 11, 2011

Winter’s Bone (2010)

Movie quotes:
Sonny: Maybe they'll share some of that with us.
Ree: That could be.
Sonny: Maybe we should ask.
Ree: Never ask for what oughta be offered.

At a glance:
Authentic locations don’t make up for the feeling that this is a film meant to marginalize and compartmentalize backwoods culture for the sake of drama

Our review (with spoilers):
In the backwoods of Missouri, Re (Jennifer Lawrence) is struggling to keep her family together. She looks after her two young siblings because her mom is in a zombie state and her meth-cooking dad has gone missing. Her dad’s disappearance takes on greater importance when Re finds out that he put up the house as his bond and they stand to lose everything if he does not show up for his court date. This sends Re on a desperate search for him among distant, suspicious and menacing relatives.

Winter’s Bone feels authentic, which is no small achievement, but is this truly a realistic glimpse at backwoods culture? To me, this is an important point. If this is a true representation of life in small town / clan, it’s worthwhile to view. But if it merely dour, depressing, and indeed stereotypical just to prove that it can be, it’s a waste of time. There’s no denying that the locations are realistic, but I wonder if the personalities are. If so, in the backwoods of Missouri, no one ever smiles. Likewise, there are times when logic and reality is swept aside for the sake of drama and conflict. Characters do, at times, seem to take action to make the storyline more interesting. Why the sudden reversal of character for the woman who first has Re beaten badly just because she shows up at Thump’s house for the second time (she is still not a threat), then suddenly decides to solve everything and provide a semi-happy ending?

Writer Debra Granik is talented, but she lives in Washington DC and is not part of this world. While watching I was reminded of Prizzi’s Honor for some reason. I know that was a comedy and this is dead serious, but it has the same pigeonhole feel.

Rating:  2.75 of 4

Other reviewers said:
"Winter's Bone is one of those movies that can't quite make a distinction between profundity and plain old bleakness."
- Stephanie Zacharek (Movieline)


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