Year : 2010 | Genre : Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Director : Debra Granikr
Writers : Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini (screenplay), Daniel Woodrell (novel)
With: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes
Ree Dolly is 17 years old. She lives with her mother, sister and brother in a small house in the rural Missouri Ozarks near the Arkansas border. Her father is nowhere to be found. Her mother is mentally ill. Her twelve-year old brother Sonny and six-year old sister Ashlee have no one to count on but her. They live in poverty and the winter is hard. We watch young Ree cooking, chopping wood, teaching her siblings some math, taking her mother for walks and talking to her without knowing how much (if anything) the woman can even understand. She tries her best to take care of her family, without complaining and without taking brakes.
Before this film, Jennifer Lawrence was virtually unknown to the cinema world, so I was astonished at how heartbreakingly realistic her portray of Ree was. You never catch her acting. And because of the way she carries her character throughout the film, you'll find yourself not only rooting for her, but also admiring her.
Based on the novel written by Daniel Woodrell, "Winter's Bone" begins with a news that could brake Ree's family apart : her drug-dealing father, Jessup, who put the family's house up for bond and then went missing, is now considered a fugitive. If he doesn't show up in a week for his hearing, they'll lose the house - their one and only possession. Facing the grim perspective of being thrown out of their home and her brother and sister ending up being raised by strangers, Ree begs her mother with tears in her eyes to please help her, just this once, because she doesn't know what to do. There is no answer from her absent minded parent. With no other solution left, she sets out to find her father, who, she soon gathers, got into big trouble and is more likely to be dead than alive. She has only a few days to bring him to the authorities, weather it is Jessup or his dead body.
We witness how Ree's survival instinct, perseverance and courage are put to the test, as she is hunting her father down, going from one character to another, of which most memorable are Jessup's terrifying older brother Teardrop (John Hawkes) and the merciless wife of one of the local bosses Merab (Dale Dickey). Despite being threatened and warned time and time again to stop looking, Ree keeps on going, while her very life is put at risk by what she discovers.
This is a film about desperation, poverty and stamina, and we are challenged to accept a reality that we sometimes pretend it doesn't exist. However, "Winter's bone" never exploits or manipulates our emotions and it doesn't take advantage of its characters. With visually hunting scenery and brutally honest dialogues, it reveals a heroine who, in spite of her age and the unfairness of her situation, goes on a war against all odds. "I'll find him", she says softly but without hesitation, as I couldn't help thinking to myself "I really hope you do...".
My overall rating : 7.8 / 10
Rating per categories, 10 being maximum of points and 1 being minimum :
Directing : 7.5
Script : 8.5
Plot and Storyline : 7
Cinematography and visuals: 7.5
Characters and acting : 8.5