Friday, June 25, 2010

Winter's Bone

"Winter's Bone" by Debra Granik (based off of Daniel Woodrell's novel) has been compared to "Frozen River" before, which is deserved, as both possess a key element, which is their year's best female performance. Here it is Jennifer Lawrence, who acts marvelously and (as my friend said) "naturally" as Ree Dolly, whose mother is so far gone into pills that she is really the matriarch and the raiser of both her siblings, Sonny (Isaiah Stone) and Ashlee (Ashlee Thompson). Her father is not present, and this is a problem, as he has put the assets of the family (such as the house) as his bond to go to court. Problematically, he's blown it and is not around. So, thus, as Ebert says she "rises to the occasion" as she doesn't want her family to lose their property and goes and asks around and seeks him.

One of the first people she asks is Teardrop (John Hawkes, very good), who is her uncle and her father's brother. He has a reputation for being a menace (as well as a druggie) and this is definitely shown. She also asks Merab (Dale Dickey), who tries vehemently to get her to go away. Another character is Ree's friend Gail (Lauren Sweetser), who calls Ree "sweet pea" quite a bit and who helps her out at home while she isn't there.

To speak of the film's technical properties, they are excellent. Cinematographer Michael McDonagh captures the landscapes in a color desaturated lens and it is beautiful. And of course, the performance work is superb. Lawrence already deserves the Best Actress Oscar, and, as of yet, Hawkes is a good Supporting Actor candidate. This film isn't perfect, as it is hard to keep track of, but still, it's watchable and, as my friend said, "quite a good film." A-


litdreamer said...

You're spot on about Jennifer Lawrence, Nick, who richly deserved the Golden Space Needle Award that she won for Best Actress at SIFF this year. Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini (screenwriter) came to screening that I saw, so feel free to check out my post on the film and see what they had to say, if you haven't already: Winter's Bone

Stephanie said...

This sounds like an interesting addition to the dysfunctional families genre :-) -- I am a sucker for character-driven stories, whether in print or film. Based on your review, I am definitely considering adding this to my Netflix queue.

Nick Duval said...

Yes, it is definitely a "dysfunctional family film." And very character driven. It was based off a book by Daniel Woodrell (a fact I idiotically forgot to mention in my review; I'll add it), so it's in print as well.