Winter’s Bone (2010)
I seem to recall there being something I’d heard about this film that had put me off. Maybe something unpleasant? I don’t recall though, so in I go. Ree (Jennifer Lawrence) lives out in the sticks with her catatonic mother and younger siblings. The proper sticks. Mountains, wilderness, flannel shirts, everything made of wood kinda sticks. Civilisation isn’t far away, but this is The Ozarks and Missouri isn’t exactly metropolis. Ree is only a teenager, but bares the weight of the family. When her drug dealing dad skips bond, their home is at stake. Eeking a life out as it is, the kids eating squirrel, losing the roof is... well it’s not good. Ree though is a fighter and sets about finding her father. I like the outdoors, but this is a harsh world, with hard people, living desperate lives. Everyone’s grizzled, few options, little happiness, a lot of anger. All this is captured viscerally. It, is, bleak. Half the cast are on crack, which is the big issue really, people with nothing looking for something. It says something when the nicest person here is a bloody army recruitment officer. Right away though I’ve confidence in Ree. She fearlessly stalks around this rundown patch work of burnt out cars, rusted sheds and shithole shacks. As brave as Ree is though, her world and situation is dangerous. She’s not stupid, far from it, but it looks like Jessop is into something serious and when he misses his hearing, Ree has a week to find him dead or alive... or lose the house. These details give the story context, but really it all amounts to one thing, drugs and bad decisions. From beginning to end there’s an uneasy discomfort that follows Ree and her uncle Teardrop (John Hawkes) who reminds me a little of Harry Dean Stanton. The entire cast are great, but it’s Lawrence who does the heavy lifting. It’s very good, but the weight of expectation left me a little disappointed. I can’t really find fault and there was certainly nothing here that should’ve put me off, but I reached what is a satisfying end thinking, yeah, good... and that’s it.