Thursday, July 29, 2010

Winter's Bone (2010)

You can never tell as far as "buzz" out of Sundance goes. Sometimes these films can arrive with a thud. Every once in a while, like with Winter's Bone they are the real deal. I was happy to find out that everyone that was raving about Winter's Bone during after Sundance were right on the money, this is really good stuff. When it comes down to it this is a mystery story, people have been referring to it as "Ozark noir", set in the hills and the backwoods of, you guessed it, the Ozarks. It features an amazing performance from Jennifer Lawrence as Ree, the teenage girl who has to figure out what happened to her father, or risk losing her family's house and land-which is pretty much all they have. Unfortunately that means trying to talk to people who really don't want any of their secrets getting out. It works both as atmospheric piece, of a community of people truly living on the very furthest fringes of society, and it works as mystery. One of the things I really like about it is nothing is ever overexplained, the audience puts information together as Ree finds it out, there is no big reveal like there would be in a more "standard" thriller. We are thrown into this community, and what we know about the characters is also only portioned piecemeal, such how people are really afraid of Thump Milton. Or one piece of dialogue where John Hawkes, truly amazing here, as Ree's uncle, Teardrop, shows up while she is being questioned. One of the men goes (or words to the effect), "I'm not dealing with Teardrop naked." As in, without a gun, because Teardrop is a true badass. Finding out like this, somehow helps to ratchet up the tension even more, everything sort of adds up, and then comes to its grim solution . Like I said, John Hawkes and Jennifer Lawrence are amazing here. (Interesting casting job, I had assumed this was her first acting job but apparently she came from working on the execrable TBS sitcom, The BIll Engvall Show, you never know where talent might spring from.) I mentioned before that not only is this a movie mainly a mystery, but it is also about community, and more specifically, family, showing that family can be both a source of liberation, but can also be a force that can trap you too. (Which I know isn't a particularly original sentiment-but the last scene in here really drives it home.)

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