Sometimes the world's greatest heroes....are the ones that sacrifice everything to take care of their family in the face of adversity
What is a hero? Seriously, what would you define as a hero exactly? Is a hero someone that we define by those that put their lives on the line in danger each day? Is a hero someone who leads mass armies while delivering cliche one liners, while blowing up the bad guys? Or maybe a hero is just someone that does the best they can to raise a family during adversity. A person who receives little to no help from anyone; only to end up raising her siblings on her own. As she's forced to deal with a father, who deserted them due to his illegal activities, and a brain dead mother, who is clinically paralyzed due to drugs obviously. Therefore, wouldn't that poor seventeen year old girl, Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence), be deemed a hero in this movie? Sure, she doesn't have the preposterous hype that Bullock had going for her last year but through her role, Jennifer portrays a girl who shows that a hero doesn't have to deliver Oscar worthy speeches to deemed a hero. No, sometimes a true hero just means doing whatever you need to take care of the people you love the most, even if it comes at the cost of your own safety at times. Sure, life can often seem unfair and often cruel to all of us, but you have to wonder if that is what a true hero endures. Perhaps a hero isn't limited to those we look up to in the armed forces, the medical professions or even our teachers. Maybe the real definition of a hero lies in the will and strength of a person, who's willing to do whatever it takes to take care of their family. No matter how harsh, cruel or even possibly life threatening adversity that lies ahead.
The story essentially follows a young unflinching Ozark Mountain girl, who hacks through dangerous social terrain as she hunts down her drug-dealing father, while trying to keep her family intact. What starts off as a simple story about a girl trying to find her father, before they lose their house, quickly becomes a dark tragic tale about a girl's struggle to survive. Unsure of who to trust, as friends and family turn against her to cover up her father's mysterious disappearance, as even her friends and family turn against her. When I first read about the plot for this movie, I have to admit I was highly intrigued. As the story alone is arguably one of the best ever presented within modern cinema. Displaying subtle touches of film noir along with gritty realism, only enhances story even more. As I loved the mystery invoked by this powerful moving story as like our heroine, we're never quite sure where the story will lead or even who's available to trust.
Indeed, I'll stand by my own convictions and say that "Winter's Bone" has one of the deepest stories ever written. However, it's a shame that the dialogue wasn't that great, as most of it came off rather stagnant and too overly generic, at times. Luckily, the main characters played by Jennifer Lawrence and John Hawkes (Teardrop) do a great job making up for it with their great performances. Sadly, I can't say that about the rest of the cast though.
Plus, I felt some of the character development around the main characters to be deemed rather poor, to say the least. Often leaving the relationships between the Ree and her father a bit of a mystery, as I would've liked to have learned more about her relationship with him. Plus, there were various moments in the book, from what I researched, where Ree would often daydream and fantasize about a better life, that never gets fully explored in this movie. Don't get me wrong, I understand that you can't fit everything from a book into one film, but it just seems rather sad, as that was one of the key things about Ree from the book. As she was a heroine who not only did everything she could to protect her siblings during harsh adversity, with little or no help from anyone, she was also putting aside her own hopes and desires to do the right thing in life. Something seldom few of us ever have the courage to do, yet she does. It's a shame the film never focuses on this aspect much outside of a couple of scenes, as I felt it would've created a stronger character focus.
Overall, I'm not saying that this is a bad movie by any means. No, just an average one at best. The story seems highly interesting for those yearning to see some quality films out there, but it just falls a bit short on execution, in terms of character focus and dialogue.