2010   USA Winter's Bone
Winter's Bone Image Cover
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Director:Debra Granik
Studio:Anonymous Content
Writer:Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini, Daniel Woodrell
IMDb Rating:7.3 (35,088 votes)
Awards:Nominated for Golden Globe, Another 10 wins & 17 nominations
Genre:Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Duration:100 min
Debra Granik  ...  (Director)
Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini, Daniel Woodrell  ...  (Writer)
Jennifer Lawrence  ...  Ree
Isaiah Stone  ...  Sonny
Ashlee Thompson  ...  Ashlee
Valerie Richards  ...  Connie
Shelley Waggener  ...  Sonya
Garret Dillahunt  ...  Sheriff Baskin
William White  ...  Blond Milton
Ramona Blair  ...  Parenting Teacher
Lauren Sweetser  ...  Gail
Andrew Burnley  ...  Baby Ned
Phillip Burnley  ...  Baby Ned
Isaac Skidmore  ...  Baby Ned
Cody Brown  ...  Floyd
Cinnamon Schultz  ...  Victoria
John Hawkes  ...  Teardrop
Dickon Hinchliffe  ...  Composer
Michael McDonough  ...  Cinematographer
Affonso Gonçalves  ...  Editor
Comments: "Here's a doobie for the road". Haven't heard that one in years. I wasn't sure if I was going to able to sit comfortably through a couple hours of hillbilly meth heads mumbling through their problems, but Jennifer Lawrence's performance doesn't take long to latch onto. Then Uncle Teardrop shows up. John Hawkes, as Teardrop, nails the role of resident scary guy, and he almost steals the show. A young man of slight physical stature, he is nonetheless able to project frightening unpredictability and intimidation. His character is very well written with a broad development arc, from violent to thoughtful to playing the banjo. The film is worth seeing for Hawkes's performance alone, but it's got a lot more to offer.

Winter's Bone, on the surface, is a backwoods family drama about drug culture, but it's also a good mystery thriller. There are some obvious and unnatural "dialog as character development" moments, and a few scenes inserted to show a little down home familial love and bonding which are a slight cause for pause, but the overall pace is fairly swift and they are easily forgiven, especially when the it rolls out one of the saddest, most thought-provoking endings to a film I've seen in a long time ... well, at least since Confessions. And it's John Hawkes who delivers the death blow.

The ending is not ambiguous. The intended scenario seems fairly clear, but it is open to a number of possibilities. It allows the viewer to sidestep the tragedy if they want to. It's brilliantly written, not saying as much as it says, and it sort of retroactively creates another layer of emotional depth to the film as a whole. I might have been on the fence had the ending come with less of an impact. This is a film that could be a great big downer, considering its subject matter, but as written and directed by Debra Granik it clings to the hopeful side of bleak, punctuated and allowed for in the end. Such is the nature of hope.

I have a funny feeling Winter's Bone might cause a few surprises at the Oscars.

Summary: With an absent father and a withdrawn and depressed mother, 17 year-old Ree Dolly keeps her family together in a dirt poor rural area. She's taken aback however when the local Sheriff tells her that her father put up their house as collateral for his bail and unless he shows up for his trial in a week's time, they will lose it all. She knows her father is involved in the local drug trade and manufactures crystal meth but anywhere she goes the message is the same: stay out of it and stop poking your nose in other people's business. She refuses to listen, even after her father's brother, Teardrop, tells her he's probably been killed. She pushes on, putting her own life in danger, for the sake of her family until the truth, or enough of it, is revealed.

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