Thursday, June 17, 2010

EIFF Premiere: "Winter's Bone" (2010)

This U.S. release from Debra Granik ("Down to the Bone") has already garnered a number of awards including the Grand Jury Prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival along with high acclaim for its phenomenal young female actress who plays the film's brave heroine. Understandable as it ranks among the best American films so far this year. "Winter's Bone" is a tale of survival, one that is chillingly embedded in realism. It takes place in the poverty-stricken, rural back-country of the Ozarks in Missouri, an unsettling and desolate place that amazingly enough actually does exist. The film was shot on location there, as well.

The survival is of 17-year-old Ree (Jennifer Lawrence) who somehow managed to teach herself to be strong and independent in such a cruel and potentially dangerous environment. She cares for not only her younger brother and sister but also her mentally ill mother all on her own. Her father, Jessup, has gone missing. As he's known in town as a meth cook, him being dead or alive becomes one in the same. Everyone knows of him, but nobody wants to say a word about him. Ree is used to her father running off, but this time she needs him back because he's skipped bail, and their house is threatened to be taken away. All those who might know of Jessup's whereabouts Ree approaches get angry because they, too, are engaging in illegal activities all together. They're in on it, so they're easy to suspect those on the inside. The only person of use to Ree is her father's brother, Tear Drop, presented in a riveting performance from John Hawkes ("Me and You and Everyone We Know").

What's brilliant about the film, adapted from a novel of the same name by Daniel Woodrell, is the way it avoids being condescending and judgmental of the people living in the Ozarks. As Ree lives among them, she doesn't look down upon them but only wants fairness from them. An entire world is created, one that is consistently haunting simply because of how authentic it feels.

The 19-year-old Jennifer Lawrence is the film's astonishing discovery of talent. She holds the film the entire way as there is not one scene without her. As a heroine, she is powerfully believable playing an assured young woman whose boldness comes from simply holding faith in hoping people will do the right thing. And that impossibly still gaze of hers is mesmerizing protecting any nervousness there may be on the inside.

As much as "Winter's Bone" sucks its viewers into the despair of humanity that grips you until the end, it is still an ode to courage that is as beautiful as it is gritty and raw.

1 comment:

  1. It's garbage. Anyone who likes this movie is stupid. I would rather just get circumsised again than finnish watching this movie. The stereotypical hillbilly bullshit is laughable!