Winter is the cruelest month. Often it’s dark and void of light. The conditions associated with winter fits nicely with the film “Winter’s Bone.”
In a rural Missouri town, poverty has struck the Dolly family led by Ree (Jennifer Lawrence). She is both the patriarch and matriarch to the family voided of a father and left with an invalid mother. She must also take care of her two siblings: Ashlee (Ashlee Thompson) and Sonny (Isaiah Stone).
She advises the kids that growing up meaning doing things that you don’t want to do at the same time teaches them value of self conduct and survival skills. The entire film has her going through these experiences taking away her childhood and youth as she becomes an adult in this black and white world rural setting.
As a 17-year-old girl she can not be expected to be able to provide the basic necessities to help her family get through on a daily basis and relies upon the kindness of her neighbor, Sonya (Shelley Waggener), who assists where she falters.
In order to escape from poverty, the townspeople turn to manufacturing drugs and using it themselves to escape from their harsh realty. Another way to escape is to enlist in the Army with a signing bonus of $40,000.
Ree’s father, who posted bail, but doesn’t show up for his court date. If she can not find her father, the law will seize their house and their land, so it’s up to Ree to hunt down her father and bring him in.
From there the movie falls into the Mystery/ Western genre. Ree interrogates and asks associates of her father of his whereabouts. Yet at the same time, she becomes the lawman in that she must track down her father, the fugitive.
Ree’s character does not fall into line with the definition of the film’s country woman being submissive to their dominant male counterparts. At one point in the film, she’s even asked if she has a man in her life who she can depend upon to carry out her investigation and interrogation.
Her Uncle Teardrop (John Hawkes) advises her to not look for her father because it will do no good and only lead to trouble for her. The townspeople become suspicious of her and forewarn her of the consequences of sticking her nose where it does not belong. Where people may help one another in dark times, they can also cause harm.
Very few are willing to help Ree out like her friend, Gail (Lauren Sweetser), who looks after her kids as she goes on these long journeys hunting for her father. The individual who may know the whereabouts of her father is Thump Milton (Ronnie Hall), but is denied access to him through his wife, Merab (Dale Dickey). Plus he does not wish to seek her out. The entire film has Ree going after Thump to confront him with info to help find her father and bring him in.
Honorable mentions for the Oscar will look at the performance of Ms. Lawrence as the girl who is forced to loss her childhood and innocence as she becomes entangled in a world where drug and tension between the townspeople uns rampant in thsi film. Mr. Hawke’s uncle comes as close to a father figure as Ree is going to have in that he advises her not to go any further to investigate her father’s whereabouts.
But for Ree, her character will do whatever it takes to ensure her family’s well-being even if it means exposing herself to whatever lies ahead. She’s definitely a strong character playing both the responsibility of being an adult who looks after her brother and sister, but at the same time is still a teenager when she shows vulernabilty for a brief moment as she consoles and seeks the advice of her mother in regards to the issue of her missing father.
Poverty is often a difficult issue to convey in film, but the film manages to show how hard it’s for one family to survive without the kindness and reliance of neighbors. Even then, one has to be aware of becoming too dependent upon them as source and forced to do whatever it may take to get through another day. Yet neighbors can also become supisoucs if one sticks their nose in business that doesn’t concerns them. The options in escaping the world created by this film are few that will lead to a better life or to their own demise.
· Film Commentary with Director Debra Granik and Director of Photography Michael McDonough .
· “The Making of ‘Winter’s Bones’”: Featuring the actors and directors of the film behind the scenes, working with the kids, locals and pets and casting call and session.
· Alternate movie opening and deleted scenes already featured in the making segment.
· “Hardscrabble Elegy: Composed and Performed by Dickon Hinchliffe” : Music Video featuring live footages of the woods.
· Music Credits, Theatrical Trailer and other Trailers.
Classification: DVD Release
Movie Grade: 3.0 stars out of 5 stars.
Breakout performances from Ms. Lawrence and Mr. Hawkes will be noticed by the Academy. Ms.Lawrence’s Ree tough-country girl persona is not hard to root for in a world dominated by males.
DVD Grade: 3.0 stars out of 5 stars
Actually features DVD extras and acknowledges the crew and the effort that went into the film in the making featurette.
Rating: Rated R for some drug material, language and violent content
Timing: 1 Hour, 40 Minutes
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Western.
· Director & Screenplay: Debra Granik
· Screenplay: Anne Rosellini
· Novel: Daniel Woodrell
· Actors: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Dale Dickey, Shelly Waggener,Lauren Sweetser, Ashlee Thompson, Isaiah Stone and Ronnie Hall.