Movie Review — Winter’s Bone

Jennifer Lawrence gives an Oscar-worthy performance of this powerhouse movie written and directed by Debra Granik.  Lawrence plays a gritty teen from rural Missouri named Ree Dolly.  She brings serious depth to this character who is both witty and intelligent while still being naive and a product of her humble roots.  Ree plans to escape her depressing surroundings by joining the military, but she is forced to put off those plans when her family hits desperate straits and she must stay with them in their fight against becoming homeless.

Ree is the oldest of three children of this backwoods Missouri family, and by default she must lead the family due to her mother’s incapacitation and her father’s absence.  Her father soon reappears after being bailed out of jail on a meth charge, but Ree is horrified to learn that he used the family’s small home and patch of land as collateral to secure his bail.  When he predictably doesn’t show up for his trial, the local sheriff advises Ree that she has one week to find her dad or the family will be put out on the street.

This sets off Ree’s adventure attempting to locate her shady father which leads to encounters with less than savory characters.  One prominent part is of Ree’s scary uncle played by John Hawkes — her entry into the underground rural meth world into which she must descend in her search for her father.  She is forced to navigate this difficult environment in her quest to find her father to avoid the loss of the family home — one which becomes even more complex when her father becomes hunted by his former meth-cooking partners as well as local law enforcement.

Winter’s Bone is both a story of personal growth as well as a poignant depiction of the poverty which still exists in many parts of America.  The film does not politicize, it simply conveys its points via deep character development and a plot line which sends Ree on a journey towards adulthood.  This movie is definitely “date-friendly”, and it has something to offer for audiences of all ages and genders.

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