Winter’s Bone: A Review
By Eva Medoff, July 1st, 2010
Winter’s Bone is a meticulous film. The slightly grungy look of the light, as if there’s a dirty filter in front of the lens coloring the world slightly yellow and altogether less hopeful, is meticulous. The faces of the secondary characters, worn and mean and looking like they don’t quite belong in this century, are meticulous. Jennifer Lawrence, who plays our heroine, Ree Dolly, is meticulous because she walks around in jeans nearly worn through at the knee, teaches her siblings how to skin squirrels and spits when she’s angry. Although Winter’s Bone takes place in modern day, it feels like an entirely different world. The Missouri that 17-year-old Ree inhabits is a place where broken down cars are collectibles, cooking meth is a common profession and people refer to family members as “kin.”
Winter’s Bone is a startling achievement simply because it’s startling to realize that places like this exist. With a mentally ill mother and a missing father, Ree is head of her household. Things take a turn for the worse when she finds out that her father bailed himself out of prison with their house as collateral—and if he doesn’t show for court, it will become the property of the state. With no other choice, she departs on a difficult and often frightening journey to locate her father, drawing her into some dubious blood lines and some dangerous dens of crime. The only problem is, she’s not quite sure if he’s still alive.
Jennifer Lawrence should get a medal simply for not over-acting. The desperation that her character faces elicits strong emotion, but she was wise to remember that this is a girl who kills her own dinner, raises her own siblings and has been faced with a life so cruel and hard that her only hope of escape is to join the army. That’s not to say the issues she faces aren’t challenging, but we’ll leave that for you to experience. Watching the drabness of Ree’s predicament makes you appreciate far smaller feats of beauty. In the end, seeing the gray light filter through the leafless Missouri trees looks like a miracle.