Winter's Bone, FTW!
Winter’s Bone (2010) has been on my movie list for the longest time, and I finally got around to watching the film all the way through. The film, nominated for four Academy Awards, has a great reputation and is considered the breakthrough performance of Jennifer Lawrence (Hunger Games). Lawrence stars as Ree Dolly, a 17-year-old girl left with the responsibility of looking after her mentally ill mother, and her two younger siblings. Her father, Jessup, is nowhere to be found and out on bail following an arrest for cooking meth. When Ree learns that they will lose their house, because Jessup put it up as part of his bond, she sets out to find her father in order keep their home and protect their livelihood.
1. Welcome to the Hilly-Billy Underworld of Meth! In order to find any clues for the whereabouts of her father, Ree has to delve deeper into the meth-underworld of this rural land, and its inhabitants are rather menacing. Although there seems to be some respect towards family ties and an unspoken set of rules - such as women are only allowed to be beaten by other women - a lot of mystery is retained. Initially it’s difficult to tell who is helpful or harmful, which generates great tension in Ree’s quest for answers. Her obstacles manifest themselves into gatekeepers of secrets of this seedy clan. Ree’s persistence really draws attention to her desperation, but gives no sign of a survival instinct; she never seems prepared when going into the lion’s den.
2. This film has been on my ‘movies to watch’ list for the longest time, mostly because I was avoiding it. Winter’s Bone didn’t look uplifting from the trailers, and it was just one of those movies that I knew you had to be in a good mood for. Fortunately this film isn’t going to depress anyone; Ree is an enduring character who you sense will succeed, because she’s just so damn strong-willed. This isn’t a detective story - Ree isn’t a damn detective; she literally is taking random stabs in the dark asking anyone about her father. Many of the times people send her off or threaten her, and it’s really because of Ree’s endurance that the audience can hang on for this long.
3. The final act is rather mesmerizing. Winter’s Bone takes an awesome turn in its third act. Once Ree makes it to the other side of all these gated secrets much is still left unanswered, but it’s clear that Ree is transformed nonetheless. At this moment all her emotional burden comes to a tipping point and it becomes very easy to see the young 17-year-old that resides under the hardened exterior. Visually the final scenes are almost haunting, and the emotional impact is large - making this film’s finale well worth it.
Overall it’s easily understood why this film was critically acclaimed, and why Jennifer Lawrence was nominated for an Academy Award. Some might find it difficult to go along with the ride considering the subject matter, but the film is overall well done. The film resonates strongly on an emotional level, through the guidance of our young protagonist, and visually eases audiences into a somber toned film. Ultimately it conveys strong messages about family ties, and offers an inspirational story of how far one would go to keep her family together. Although it looks rather depressing, the film manages to keep its head up and maintains some optimism about family surviving together in rather bleak circumstances.