Friday, 26 August 2011

Film Review: WINTER’S BONE (2010)

Winter's Bone Poster Co-Writer/Director: Debra Granik
Running time: 100 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Drama/Mystery/Thriller
UK Release date: 17th September 2010

Watched on Sky+ Friday 26th August 2011.


I have been looking forward to seeing this film for about a year now. So many good things have been said about it and I wanted to see for myself what all the fuss was about. Of course it didn’t play at my local cinema, and it only had a very limited showing at the nearest multiplex… at a time that wasn’t convenient for me (of course). And so a year later it finally airs on TV and, at last, I get to see this much anticipated film. I don’t think the wait helped, it meant that, little by little, small details about the plot came to my ear and this, ultimately, affected my enjoyment of it. But more of that later, here’s a brief summary first.

wintersbone1 Ree Dolly lives in the Ozark Mountains with her younger brother, Sonny, her younger sister, Ashlee and her sick mother. Her father, Jessop, has been gone for some time, and so it’s up to the 17 year old Ree to hold the family together. One day the Sheriff turns up and tells Ree that her father has been arrested, but has posted bail. As part of the bond he has put up their house and their land. She has about a week to find him before he’s due to appear in court. Ree sets off to talk to the close-knit community but gets short shrift at every turn. Even Jessop’s brother, Teardrop, refuses to help her, but Ree is determined and continues looking. Nobody is prepared to step forward and Ree ends up pushing to too far, so far in fact that she puts her own live in danger. But she has an unexpected ally… Of course, I would not be thanked for continuing at this point, so I’ll leave it here. The Spoiler Police have already been making inquiries in the area and I don’t want them to find me.

winter's bone 1 The picture deliberately has a very stark look to it and this adds to the bleakness of both the surroundings and the situation Ree finds herself in. I also like the music chosen for the film, some traditional Ozark songs fit the mood perfectly. The film is notable for a tremendous performance from Jennifer Lawrence as Ree, I thought she was outstanding. Also worthy of note was John Hawkes as Teardrop; I thought he put in a good turn too. Lauren Sweetser was good as Ree’s friend Gail and the children, Isaiah Stone as Sonny and Ashlee Thompson as Ashlee were also very good. Finally, honourable mentions go to both Dale Dickey as Merab and Garret Dillahunt as Sheriff Baskin.

john_hawkes_winters_bone1 The plot has quite a slow pace and it is very much a character driven piece, so it may not be to everyone’s taste. I enjoyed it, although it did lose me a little towards the middle; having said that it’s well worth sticking with. There are a couple of scenes that some people may find a bit disturbing, but, I’m told, these things really go on. It’s quite a serious film, addressing some very dark issues, but one I found ultimately did deliver. The performance from Jennifer Lawrence is what holds it together and I must admit to being enthralled by it… Definitely recommended.

My Score: 8.4/10.

IMDb Score: 7.3/10 (based on 32,855 votes at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94/100 (based on 158 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

winters-bone_02 FAVOURITE QUOTE:
Sonny: [on gutting a squirrel] Do we eat these parts?
Ree: [grimly] Not yet...

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