Storyline: This movie is set in impoverished rural Missouri where the residents have trashed the land with wrecked autos, discarded objects, empty crates, and papers. A young girl hacks through dangerous social terrain as she hunts down her drug-dealing father while trying to keep her family intact.
Verdict: Jennifer Lawrence is definitely the upcoming actress to watch. Great work from Debra Granik. With such a depressing story set in US ‘outback’, the director and the cast really put on a great performance that kept our attention. As the story unfolds, you will see seventeen-year-old Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) as the young, head of the home of a family that’s been pushed over the edge by crystal meth. Tough and resourceful beyond her years, she is single-handedly bringing up her younger brother and sister while caring for her mentally unbalanced mother. Her father, a notorious crystal meth manufacturer, has disappeared, but his absence becomes an even bigger problem when a sheriff turns up at the family’s backwoods homestead to announce that Ree’s dad has skipped bail. He’s put up the house as his bond and if Ree can’t find him within the week, they’ll lose their home.
This movie is shot in the Ozarks (also referred to as Ozarks Mountain Country) which are a physiographic and geologic highland region of the central United States. It covers the southern half of Missouri and an extensive portion of northwestern and north central Arkansas. The Ozark Highlands area, covering nearly 47,000 square miles is by far the most extensive mountainous region between the Appalachians and the Rocky Mountains.
I liked the scene where she teaches her younger siblings how to fend for themselves. “Don’t ask for what’s not offered,” she tells her little brother who wants to ask others for food to fill his empty stomach. Knowing that she’s going to have to go and track down her father’s whereabouts, Ree teaches the kids how to shoot and skin wild animals. The screenplay by Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini is captivating as you see Ree emerge as a heroine who has to take full responsibility for saving her family as well as their home. The cast are also realistically ugly and scary which is good, in a non-hollywoodish sort of way. Winter’s Bone also gives us some insights into hillbilly cliches and how the woods provide cover for Missouri’s insidious meth industry.
Jennifer Lawrence was nominated for this year’s Best Actress category for the Oscars. Unfortunately, she was up against some great performances from some Hollywood veterans (Natalie Portman clinched it for her role in Black Swan). She might just win the next nomination.