Wednesday, September 22, 2010
My heart was beating faster than usual when this movie let out. There was a tugging on it as well, which was there through most of the film. I wasn’t 100% certain that I wanted to see this, thought maybe I should wait until it was available on Netflix. Another quiet, slow-paced movie set in the cold mountains of the American South? Must I? But the girl who stars in it, Jennifer Lawrence, was getting the kind of reviews you don’t often see anymore, and a friend of mine told me that I’d “better see this movie if it’s still out in the city.” So I went, and blown was my mind.
Less is more, they say, and so, I imagine, did Debra Granik, the director. And Jennifer Lawrence listened. Her performance of the lead character, a girl who has never lied and never needs to, is so deeply soulful, with a mixture of mournfulness and hardness inside it. She plays Ree Dolly, a 17-year-old girl of the Ozarks, from a meth-cooking family. She becomes caretaker to her siblings and their mother, who has retreated into a near silent existence, unable to tend to her offspring. Ree’s father, a noted meth cooker in town, has gone missing the week before his court date, and Ree learns from a cop that he has put his family’s house up as his bond. Ree grocks the fact that her only choice is to find her father. And so the movie begins.
Winter’s Bone is cold, raw, and chewed up, as is John Hawkes, who plays Ree’s terrifying uncle Teardrop, the meth addict with a heart of lead. Ree’s questioning about her father’s whereabouts is a prickly topic, and there is violence in the film because of it. But there is not enough violence to warrant skipping the movie.
The cold and mist in Winter’s Bone will sink into you in the theater. It may be a quiet little movie, but it will roar at you for some time.