Saturday, February 17, 2018

Movie Review: "Winter's Bone" (2010)

Year Nominated: 2011
Director: Debra Granik
Rating: R
Oscar Nominations: 4
Oscar Wins: 0
Running Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

A teenage girl searches for her felon father who used their home and land as collateral to post bail. If she fails to find him, their family could lose everything.

Oh where, oh where, has my meth-cooking dad gone, oh where, oh where could he be? He only hangs out with criminals and meth addicts, so we can't possibly imagine what happened to him! "Winter's Bone" is directed by Debra Granik, who also wrote the screenplay with Anne Rosellini. It is based on a novel of the same name by Daniel Woodrell. The story follows a 17-year-old girl named Ree, played by Jennifer Lawrence, whose mother has had some sort of a mental breakdown, leaving Ree to care for her younger brother and sister. She learns that her father, who has recently been released from prison on bail, used the family's land and home as collateral, but has now gone missing. If he doesn't show up for his court date, their family will lose everything. Now, Ree must go on a quest across town to ask if anyone has seen her daddy, but nobody is willing to give her any information despite the fact that they are all kin in some way or another.

"Winter's Bone" takes a look at the lives of a group of rural people who live in the Ozark mountains. If we are to trust this movie's portrayal, they are all apparently uneducated, inbred meth addicts. The set-up for this story is all about Ree looking for her father, though it becomes clear pretty quickly what happened to him. This is less a movie about locating a missing person and more about watching Jennifer Lawrence walking around asking the locals if they have seen her daddy. It's a movie about getting those same people to actually help Ree and her family out because they "share the same blood." With names like Teardrop and Thump, you can imagine these people aren't exactly the most hospitable folks despite that they are related to Ree, some more distantly than others. Even with some built-in intrigue in its premise, "Winter's Bone" is sadly too repetitive as Ree continually asks questions while her criminal relatives tell her to stop asking questions and to "let it go." The crux of the story shows a clash of rustic wills. It's a race to see which side will give in first: the criminals with secrets to hide or a 17-year-old girl on a mission to discover the truth. Jennifer Lawrence gives an excellent early-career performance and essentially carries the entire movie on her own. "Winter's Bone" was the movie that got her noticed and earned her her first Oscar nomination for best actress, an honor she has received multiple times throughout her young career.

"Winter's Bone" is critically acclaimed and was even nominated for four Oscars, including best picture. Everyone seems to love this film, but for us, it is just too damn slow. It has an occasional intriguing moment, but "engaging enough" is really the best thing we can say about it. There are some elements we enjoy, primarily Jennifer Lawerence's performance and its stellar cinematography, but beyond that, this is a mostly forgettable backwoods kerfuffle kind of film.

My Rating: 6.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 94%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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