Movie Review: Winter’s Bone

I know next to nothing about the Ozarks in Missouri.  I know these are good, country people in the heart of America.  I also know that I never want to live there.  Thanks to Debra Granik’s riveting Winter’s Bone.

Ashamed I didn’t get to see this on the big screen, I had been clamoring for the DVD release of this film for months.  I tried not to know too much about the film (although I did listen to the Creative Screenwriting podcast with Granik), because I had heard the film was very good and didn’t want any preconceived notions about what was going to happen.

I really don’t think knowing what was going to happen would have mattered.  It was getting to that resolution why the film was so great.  And it was great.  The cinematography was the first time I have seen a film shot on the Red that looks like film.  The production design (Ozarks themselves) was amazing.  The score and music were outstanding and sucked me into this tale about a girl with a lot on her plate and very little help.

I had gone into this film thinking Carey Mulligan was the best young actress around, with the best female performance of the year (sorry Noomi Rapace).  But after seeing this, how anyone can think there is a better performance than Jennifer Lawrence’s Ree Dolley would really amaze me.  And she is going to give Mulligan a run for her money as best young actress – and she was 17 years old when this was made.  She was completely absorbing.  Strong and vulnerable at the same time.  Granik and her team hit the jackpot with Lawrence.  The other cast were all good too, particularly John Hawkes as Teardrop, Lawrence’s crank dealing uncle.  There was a dark edge to his familial bounds that kept you on edge the entire time he was onscreen.

Seek this movie out.  It is currently battling The Social Network for my favorite film of the year so far.  We’ll see how I feel on December 31.

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