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Bleak, haunting, and yet still somehow hopeful, Winter's Bone is writer-director Debra Granik's best work yet -- and it boasts an incredible, starmaking performance from Jennifer Lawrence.
All Critics (167)
| Top Critics (39)
| Fresh (157)
| Rotten (10)
| DVD (2)
Debra Granik's bleak little film is as tough, unflinching and fascinating as the characters who eke out a life amid its cold, gray hills.
A rewarding, richly detailed exploration of the strength of character required when confronted by ugly truths.
It is all given unironic dignity and power due to the outstanding lead performance from 20-year-old Jennifer Lawrence as Ree, a young woman who must take on some scary neighbourhood types to protect her family.
Granik balances the pace and intrigue of a mystery thriller with total compassion for Ree, played with much skill by Lawrence.
This unblinking look at America's Red State Crystal Meth Belt is an instant Southern Gothic classic.
Winter's Bone is a genuine triumph, a great movie with astounding performances so natural, so genuine, that you forget it's a movie.
Just when you think the search is going to come to a frighteningly bloody conclusion, the story catapults you into an even more traumatizing wrap-up that somehow (???) eventually leaves you with some hope.
Beautifully shot across the vast, bleak landscapes of the Missouri Ozarks, Debra Granik's minimalistic tale of strength and determination is a deeply moving experience, propelled by the amazing performances of Jennifer Lawrence and John Hawkes.
Granik and Anne Rosellini's screenplay is a simple affair, allowing Jennifer Lawrence's grim determination to keep you hooked. And it works.
This harsh film, set in gray Ozark forests, represents a step forward in screen depictions of the rural South, and in the career of its writer-director, Debra Granik.
. . .the film also hits every major poverty cliché: hard men, harder women and a code of honour among the thieves and junkies that is as intractable as it is ancient. The notes are solemnly intoned one after the other.
Beneath the fierce naturalism of the stark chilly/beautiful imagery and tough performances is a rural noir in an unforgiving world and Granik tells the story with great skill.
With an excellent performance by Jennifer Lawrence, this is a haunting and extremely distressing drama whose downbeat atmosphere feels always suffocating and real as it drags us into this bleak universe filled with dreadful people living in so much misery and poverty.
Bleak and disenchanting look at the dark side of the American country side. Carried by great acting performances and the fascinatingly gloomy criminal networks of Ozark County the film manages to engage the audience, even if it primarily consists of Jennifer Lawrence walking through the woods and talking to hostile hillbilly hicks. Surprisingly, that works because we very soon start to care about Ree.
What makes "Winter's Bone" eerily unique in the indie realm is its depiction of people made disadvantaged in life, and yet they live by a system of honorable codes. Our main character Ree (Lawrence) takes care of her mother and two younger siblings, and has to deal with the disappearance of her crack cooking father. She has to try and keep their house from being taken away by finding him, but is met with controversy. Ree is a strong character who is mature beyond her years, because she has to be to survive the harsh backwoods' conditions. Most of the film serves as a portrayal of the silence that's instilled in this community who deal primarily in drugs and other illegal activities. Ree is often threatened with severe punishment if she doesn't halt her questioning, though she is only seventeen and is serving a noble purpose. Nobody, especially a teenager, should have to grow up so fast, but it seems that everyone is older than they appear: teenagers are married with children, or serve as the gatekeepers in their households, though many aren't even old enough to vote. The only issue I really have with this film is that there aren't that many hurdles for Ree to get over. The only time she's really met with controversy is when she's attacked, otherwise many of the conflicts associated with the plot are wrapped up by the end, which just feels too easy.
A 17 year old girl left to care for her family in dirt-poor rural Alabama goes in search of her absentee father when faced with the choice of either forcing him to appear before the court or losing their home. Winter's Bone, despite its detective story-style premise, has a flavour very much of a frontier western; take away the synthetic fabrics, pick-up trucks, indoor plumbing and narcotics of choice and you have a community whose life has probably remained pretty much unchanged in the last hundred years. It's a portrait of the struggles of living below the poverty line in contemporary rural America as Jennifer Lawrence's destitute but proud heroine explores the underbelly of her tightly knit but deeply dysfunctional extended family. It's a stark, bleak and gritty drama full of characterful and completely believable performances set within a part of contemporary society rarely depicted outside of trailer trash stereotypes. Tense, occasionally frightening and extremely well observed, Winter's Bone is a serious drama that chooses substance over superficial flash and is all the more affecting and disturbing for it.
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