|2010 USA Winter's Bone|
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Summary: With an absent father and a withdrawn and depressed mother, 17 year-old Ree Dolly keeps her family together in a dirt poor rural area.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.