Sunday, June 27, 2010

Winter's Bone

Director Debra Granik made her debut with the excellent Indie film "Down To The Bone". That film also introduced Vera Farmiga, who has gone on to more well know Hollywood fare. Ms. Granik follows "Down To The Bone" with "Winter's Bone" and again launches the career of a wonderful actress.

"Winter's Bone", like it's predecessor, is set in bleak surroundings focusing on people living on or below the poverty line and features a strong female lead. Jennifer Lawrence plays Ree, a 17 year old taking care of her ill mother and younger brother and sister in the Ozark mountains of Missouri.
When her missing father skips a bail bond, Ree must find him or lose their home (which was put up against the bond).

Ms. Lawrence is wonderful as Ree. She's both tough and tender, beautifully balancing a complicated character. Co-starring as her uncle "Teardrop", is veteran actor John Hawkes, who was a regular on the excellent HBO series Deadwood. Mr. Hawkes brings multiple layers to a character who easily could have been a one note role. They are both terrific.

The script has elements of a Hollywood formula but it frequently veers off that path. The film has a documentary quality as we follow Ree's hunt for her criminal father. Ms. Granik has a knack for capturing the resolve of her characters living in a bleak and raw environment. She can make you feel the chill of an Ozark winter and find humanity buried beneath rough and sometimes scary exteriors. Her camera transports you to Ree's world and if you are unfamiliar with this way of life, this film will certainly raise your social awareness.

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