Winter’s Bone

****

Limacher Low Down: I wanted to start by thanking the Academy for enlightening me to a movie that I hadn’t heard about until the nominations came out. Winter’s Bone was well acted and told a great story. I felt a real connection to the characters, and the story told was beyond what I was expecting. Winter’s Bone introduced me to an environment I had no real previous knowledge of, and it opened my eyes to the way things are outside my realm of understanding. Everything about the film was depressing, dark, and yet down-right amazing. I am proud to say I actually watched this movie, and it’s something I won’t soon forget.

Winter’s Bone is the story of Ree (Jennifer Lawrence) a 17 year old girl taking care of her younger siblings and somewhat catatonic mother. Ree finds out early on that her father, Jessup, was released on bond from prison and when Sherriff Baskin (Garrett Dillahunt) tells her how he was able to bond out, Ree takes it upon herself to find Jessup. Though this takes place in a modern setting, these people are poor and rely on cooking meth and meager farming to afford what they have: thus Ree actually walks from place to place in search of her father.

Ree’s journey to find Jessup leads her to several supporting characters, Gail (Lauren Sweester) who attempts to help, but does not have the means. Ree even seeks out someone she has avoided for years, Teardrop (John Hawkes). Teardrop is a gritty man who has no wanton need or desire to help Ree find her father and he rapidly sends her on her way. She finally makes her way to the “head” of the community, Merab (Dale Dickey) who tells Ree that she best move along and leave things alone, or she will regret her choices.

Every road turns up the same result, nothing. People start to get upset that Ree is asking so many questions about Jessup, and they tell Ree to give up. But Ree soon realizes that the only way to help her family, and herself, is by continuing her search for Jessup.

Ree gets a visit from Teardrop who attempts to console Ree and do what he feels is best for the family as well. Ree, still not happy with her progress, seeks out Thump Milton (Ronnie Hall) and sees if she can get some answers out of him. Ree learns the hard way to listen when people say stop, but Teardrop ensures that she remain safe. Teardrop then takes it upon himself to tell Ree the story of Jessup and what he believes may be going on in the community. Teardrop and Ree search for answers, but will they ever get the answers they are looking for?

Winter’s Bone does a great job of expressing emotion and giving a greater understanding of people and the lives that they live. This movie takes you into these people’s lives and portrays a community that most people don’t care to know exists. I was amazed by the acting skills that Jennifer Lawrence portrayed, being in every scene. John Hawkes makes the most of his limited screen time, and shows that he has grown from his time in Deadwood. Everything about this film is just depressing, but when the credits roll it gives a sense of amazement of what you just witnessed.


4 Responses to “Winter’s Bone”

  1. Lorent Says:

    Great Movie!! I was raised in the Missouri Ozarks area where the film was set and filmed. This is the part of the US that loves Sara Palin, Rush Limbaugh (who is from Missouri) and voted for GW Bush twice. I have to say that the film was amazingly "true to life" in every detail. I would also like to say that you don't have to be desperately hungry to hunt and eat squirrels either. It is considered very good food in the hills. I have eaten it many times and it is delicious when cooked correctly.

    I have been dismayed reading many of these reviews calling it a "fake" and/or "phony" and contrived film. I do understand that the character of Ree Dolly certainly has many wonderful and admirable qualities that seem to have developed in a vacuum. Ree Dolly needs to be that sort of character for the rest of the film to work and not simply be a documentary of the endless poverty endured in the Ozarks for generation after generation. I grew up EXACTLY in that part of Missouri and Ree's character aside, it is EXACTLY correct in the look, the language and the behaviors there.

    I would also like to address the meth epidemic that has raced across huge sections of the rural Midwest America. I was raised in the Ozarks from 1963 until 2009 and I watched the moonshiners lose out as Sunday Blue Laws and Dry County Laws were voted down or abandoned. Then marijuana became THE big cash crop that survived and thrived for many years until "Daddy" Bush's anti-marihuana laws poured in tons of money to local law enforcement and new laws confiscating lands forced the richer growers indoors. It was finally in the mid 1990s when you began to see meth force out ALL the remaining marihuana farmers and moonshiners. Counties began to get in meth dealing Sheriffs and the old games were OVER. In my Ozark County (Morgan) during the late 1990s a deputy sheriff's home mysteriously exploded and then was investigated by the FBI. I watched as the marijuana became hard to find and evil meth take over.

    The people of the Ozarks have always been clannish, hostile to outsiders and proudfully ignorant and primitive in their opinions of society and politics. Those traits are nothing new or something that manifested due to meth. But the introduction of meth has struck down many good men and women who might have made the culture a tiny bit more tolerant or hopeful.

    But along with the continuing devastation of multi generational poverty and vastly inferior schools there is also a great beauty in the land and the people of the region that you can see in a short movie shot in the Ozarks at;
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avq3-lBgyzs

    or my longer version at:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTKWqKTGwTg

    Many an unbelievably gifted musician lived and died in those hills never having recognition from anyone outside of the hills.

    I strongly urge everyone to watch this movie because it is VERY
    truthful and realistic of how parts of the US survive. It also shows a part of America that is VERY often overlooked because many are (rightfully) ashamed that this sort of 3rd world poverty exits in the US. I personally feel that the Federal US government needs to inject a LOT more funding and OVERSITE of the rural school districts in order to overcome the generations of prideful ignorance that governs the mindset of many born into that rural America culture.

  2. RickSwift Says:

    Lorent, thank you so much for your comments. I didn't really read them all before, because I wanted to see the movie, and typically people put a lot of spoilers in comments. Like Limacher, I was unaware such communities still existed, or that meth seemed to be the only thing keeping them going. Thank you for sharing those films as well. Have you, by any chance, seen Songcatcher? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0210299/ I could have lived without all the fluff, but it was an incredible film for showing the rich musical culture of the forgotten Americas.

  3. Lorent Says:

    I am very glad that you liked my comments. It is very unfortunate that we still have places such as this anywhere on the planet. Meth, minimum wage service jobs and timber are the primary ways that most folks survive there now. After meth hit the area you began to hear chainsaws running at 2AM deep in the woods as folks doing meth and desperate for $$$ cut trees to sell to lumber companies and cut into those firewood bundles that you see outside of convenience stores during the winter.

    Yes I saw "Songcatcher" but I didn't know the title. Thank you so much for sharing it with me because I have friends that I have been wanting to share it with.

    Thank you so much for your kind comments.

  4. The Hunger Games - South Florida Movie Reviews by I Rate Films Says:

    [...] Lawrence as the perfect fit for Katniss.  She damned near simply reprises her role from Winter’s Bone, where she plays the poor, destitute, starving care-giver for her siblings.  Katniss is no [...]