Winter’s Bone; (2010) dir. by Debra Granik, starring Jennifer Lawrence — available on Netflix Instant Watch
Best Screenplay Award, 2010 Sundance Film Festival
My first thought while/after watching this movie was no wonder they chose her to play Katniss. Her character in Winter’s Bone bears striking similarities: poor upbringing, responsibility of providing for younger siblings and a parent, hardly any adults willing to go out on a limb to help her (though they freely offer her tea).
Jennifer Lawrence (nominated for Academy Award for Best Actress for the role) plays Ree Dolly, a 17-year-old with 2 young siblings, an ill/almost-unresponsive mother and a missing father with a meth habit. Her father is about to miss his court date, the consequences of which would jeopardize her and her family’s futures, and though she lives in a small Ozark community of relatives and distant relatives, few offer any support.
It’s a fascinating film visually and thematically. The lack of background music makes for a state of eerie and quiet tension throughout. Thematically, the film explores rural poverty, desperation, patriarchy, an aspect of drug culture and family ties. Ree is only seventeen, but finds herself shunned and in serious danger when visiting relatives in her search for her dad.
John Hawkes plays Teardrop Dolly, Ree’s meth addict uncle and the brother of Jessup Dolly, Ree’s Father. As one of Ree’s closest family ties but also a meth user, Teardrop’s range of violent to somewhat-supportive treatment of Ree is shocking and thought-provoking (as a look at a culture of extreme rural poverty/every-man-for-himself that most viewers cannot fully comprehend). He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 2011 Academy Awards for his performance.
I don’t want to spoil the film’s impressive twists, or those moments where I thought to myself, Jennifer Lawrence IS really talented (as opposed to just being very capable of a thoughtful, concerned facial expression), so I’ll just say that you MUST see this one.
Not many suspense films I’ve seen carry this level of acting talent, weighty plotlines/subject matter, and cinematography expertise. The speed of the film thrives without constant action, and strong writing creates an ensemble of multi-dimensional though laconic characters.