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"Winter's Bone" Movie Review

Updated on September 16, 2011
Jennifer Lawrence
Jennifer Lawrence
Ree Dolly and her sibilngs
Ree Dolly and her sibilngs
Ree's Uncle "Teardrop" played by John Hawkes
Ree's Uncle "Teardrop" played by John Hawkes

Winter's Bone

I saw Winter's Bone tonight which is the best movie I've seen in a while. It was so real that it seemed almost like a documentary of life in the Missouri Ozarks in the 1930s. The characters and setting reminded me of the depression photography of Walker Evans and Dorthea Lange.

The heroine of the story is Ree Dolly, a courageous 17-year-old girl played with an award-winning performance by Jennifer Lawrence.

The movie covers several days during which Ree faces a crisis caused by her father's disappearance after posting the family home and farm as bail bond for his trial for cooking meth in a lab in the Missouri back woods. Ree cares for her two young sibilings and her mother who is depressed to the point of being non-functional. The family home and farm will be lost if her father doesn't show up for his trial. The plot revolves around Ree's search to find her father to make sure he shows up for the trial so that the farm won't be sold for the defaulted bail bond. Her search begins with her father's cocaine-addicted brother and ends up with various ruthless relatives and other members of Ozarks drug clan associates of her father who are not willing to help her.

The characters seemed so real that I wonder how the cast was recruited, that is, whether they were played by actors or by real people from the Missouri Ozarks. And all the scenes were definitely shot on location, not on a Hollywood set. The script was written and directed by Debra Granik. It was based on a book by Daniel Woodrell. Several reviewers compared the movie to Frozen River, the prize winning independent movie released two years ago. It's also worthy of comparison of the almost Biblical French movies Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring. Like them Winter's Bone was not easy to watch.

Note: The movie may sound like a "downer," but I didn't react to it that way. It's an uplifting movie because of Ree Dolly's guts and determination not to give up on doing whatever it took to find her father and save the family farm. She is quite an admirable character, in my opinion, well portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence.

Dortheal Lange Images

Dorthea Lange's Most Famous Photograph
Dorthea Lange's Most Famous Photograph | Source


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    • stephaniedas profile image

      Stephanie Das 

      8 years ago from Miami, US

      This was a great movie. Also, I believe the children that played Ree's younger siblings were actually real Ozarks dwellers, not actors.

    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      9 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Thanks for your comments! It's a serious movie, quite well done. Not Hollywood or Bollywood.

    • H P Roychoudhury profile image

      H P Roychoudhury 

      9 years ago from Guwahati, India

      You have presented a great 'Movie Review'. Thanks.

    • profile image


      9 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota

      I had just come here to let you know I've just added a link to your "Winter's Bone" review on the page for mine, and I see you've already added one to my review... for which, my thanks. I'm glad to see that you also mentioned "Frozen River"... I'd like to imagine that at least a few curious fans who are impressed by "Winter's Bone" might check out "Frozen River", too. And just a note to mention that after taking a look at some of your political pieces it looks like we might agree on more than a few things. I'll be checking them out more in the future.

    • Coolmon2009 profile image


      9 years ago from Texas, USA

      Sounds like an interesting movie. Thanks for this review.

    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      9 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      TNX. Maven's comment is right on. Ree's encounter with the Army recruiter stood out from the rest of the movie. The recruiter was one of the "nicer" people she encountered.

    • suziecat7 profile image


      9 years ago from Asheville, NC

      I never heard of this movie before and will have to check it out.

    • maven101 profile image


      9 years ago from Northern Arizona

      Excellent review of this taut thriller. I thought John Hawkes was terrific as the dangerous uncle...

      For all the emphasis on naturalism, the world depicted here seems too cut off from the rest of America to feel totally authentic. That’s brought home in a brilliant scene when Ree tries to enlist with a wise military recruiter — is this the only contact with the greater world (other than a small-town police officer) that she has? Her total backwoods isolation doesn’t quite ring true for our modern times...Larry

    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      9 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Tnx, all, for the comments. PrettyPanther, you should definitely see the movie although it might change your mind about moving to the Missouri Ozarks although the countryside there is beautiful.

    • breakfastpop profile image


      9 years ago

      Thanks for the great review. I am looking forward to seeing it.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Hazelton 

      9 years ago from Sunny Florida

      It sounds like a good movie to go see. Great review.

    • PrettyPanther profile image


      9 years ago from Oregon

      I'm not sure I would have heard of it, if not for your review. I will check it out. Coincidentally, my family and I are moving to the foothills of the Missouri Ozarks in about two months.

    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      9 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Tnx for the comments. Actually, the movie was not depressing in the same way Mystic River was. The Ree character was in many ways uplifting in her courage and determination to find her father and save the family homestead.

    • FCEtier profile image


      9 years ago from Cold Mountain

      I enjoyed your review, but the movie sounds really depressing. "Mystic River" was well crafted and acted, many say a "masterpiece" but is was SOOO depressing!

    • zzron profile image


      9 years ago from Houston, TX.

      Really cool. Thumbs up.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Cannot wait to see

    • sabu singh profile image

      sabu singh 

      9 years ago

      Excellent and thrilling trailer Ralph. Thank you for telling me about this movie of which I was unaware. Must see.


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