Winter's Bone (2010) Movie Review
***Reader-Submitted Review***By: Lindsey Weeks
Directed by: Debra Granik
Debra Granik (screenplay)
Anne Rosellini (screenplay)
Daniel Woodrell (novel)
Jennifer Lawrence - Ree
Isaiah Stone - Sonny
Ashlee Thompson - Ashlee
Valerie Richards - Connie
Shelley Waggener - Sonya
Garret Dillahunt - Sheriff Baskin
William White - Blond Milton
Ramona Blair - Parenting Teacher
Lauren Sweetser - Gail
Cody Brown - Floyd
Cinnamon Schultz - Victoria
John Hawkes - Teardrop
Casey MacLaren - Megan
Kevin Breznahan - Little Arthur
Dale Dickey - Merab
Sheryl Lee - April
Winter's Bone was a movie that grabbed you by the back of the neck and pulled you so close you could feel the pine needles tickling your nose.
It brought me back to my childhood, driving with my dad one day to someone's house way out in north Orange. The yard had lots of junk in it, abandoned snow mobiles, piles of scrap wood, bales of chicken wire and big white geese that hissed at me when I got too close. Even outside it smelled like dusty furniture getting wet and then steam drying over and over. It was the first time I had the thought that some people were less fortunate than I am. Winter's Bone brought me back there. It was like stepping into that yard. It was real life uncensored, for all its brutality and the ache of reaching for something when you know the odds are stacked against you.
In movies you get used to "suspending your disbelief". You're willing to look over the fact that real life isn't like that. For instance in, 'You've Got Mail', Meg Ryan's character has an amazingly huge apartment in New York. We all know she could never afford that, especially owning a bookstore that goes out of business. But it's okay because she's adorable and Tom Hanks is Tom Hanks and we like the movie. So we can forgive the little lies. But in Winter's Bone I recognized that house. I recognized that yard. I've seen those people. It's has an air of tragic familiarity. It pulls you in because it's a world you've seen.
Ree, played by Jennifer Lawrence, is someone you see in the grocery store and wonder how she is getting by with her crazy mother and those two kids but something about the way she carries herself makes you think she's more than capable of taking care of herself. Ree was pushed into a position where she had to be a father and a mother, and only through very subtle ways did she let us see how it was almost more than she could bear: the way she went to her father's closet several times, touching his clothes and cowboy boots, almost as if she were trying to channel patriarchal strength.
The movie also brought to my attention that the "mafia" mentality of Boston or New York City isn't just a big city issue. Ree's extended family felt an awful lot like some kind of West Virginian mafia. The extremely deeply rooted need/demand for respect permeated all the male roles and the penalty for disrespect was very harsh. The hierarchy was very clearly drawn out and also the punishment for breaking the family code. This aspect of the film gave it a sense of claustrophobia, and by the end of the movie you realize you haven't had a deep breath in a while.