Winter's Bone


Occasionally, it does begin to feel as if weíre all being force-fed the best and worst that Hollywood has to offer. Every so often though, a film manages to get by without a trillion dollar budget and effects up to its armpits. Winterís Bone is one such film, telling as it does a simple tale in a simple fashion.

Just because the state of Missouri is in the heart of the US, it doesnít mean that the people who live there have them. The Ozark Woods is proper Redneck country, where folk really donít like others meddling in their business.

Living in a rundown, ramshackle building in the middle of the woods is 17 year-old Ree (Jennifer Lawrence). She lives with her mother, who is not a well woman, and her two younger siblings whom she has to look after. Her father isnít in the picture often, which is just as well as he spends a lot of his time cooking up drugs.

One day a Sheriff visits Ree asking after her father. He informs her that he has a date in court coming up, and if he doesnít make it, they could all lose their home, as it was used as a bond for his release. With the real fear of losing everything in the front of her mind, she starts to ask around as to her fatherís whereabouts. This leads her on a desperate search that more than ruffles a few of the localsí feathers, causing them to behave anything but neighbourly.

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Even though this is only director Debra Granikís second feature, sheís proven that she most definitely operates with an Indie sensibility. So much so that sheís won prizes for both films (this and 2004ís Down to the Bone) at Sundance.

Much has been said about the performance she gets from her lead Lawrence Ė which has also put her in the running for Best Actress at this yearís Oscars (quite rightly too) Ė but everyone on screen pulls their weight. John Hawkes is also stunning as her uncle Teardrop; heís another deserving of an Oscar nod (in the best Supporting Actor category) with possibly the best performance of his career to date.

Where Granik shows her skill however is in the art of seamlessly blending in professional talent along with locals with no acting experience whatsoever. The result is a community that is both united and curiously at odds with itself. Imagine Cletus (from The Simpsons) Country, but without the backward humour Ė thatís the community to a tee.

Winterís Bone is both elegant and haunting in equal measures and is about as unHollywood as you can possibly get, and sometimes, you just canít ask more than that.

four out of five