The Mixed Tape

Winter’s Bone by Andy Motz
August 3, 2010, 6:55 pm
Filed under: Film, Reviews | Tags:

Lifeless trees, dry grass, and gray skies.  Dreary houses on hills with confined cluttered interiors.  Children’s toys strewn over yards and trampolines without covers. A rusty rocking horse covered icicles that are slowly melting.  A young girl, on the search for her missing father through a barren landscape. This is Winters Bone. A film from writer/director Debra Gratnick that won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this past year and for good reason.

Taking place in the Ozark Mountains, Winters Bones tells the tale of 17 year of Ree.  Ree takes care of her mentally ill mother, her younger sister, and her little brother. One day however she gets a visit from the Sheriff who comes bearing bad news. Her drug-dealing father is missing and if he doesn’t show up for court Ree loses the house and the property. Her and her family will be rendered homeless.  Therefore Ree sets out on a journey to find her father.

The ads describe Winters Bone as an intense crime saga, yet that is misleading.  It is a crime story albeit an unconventional one.  It never picks up speed, our heroine is often left hopeless, and the climax turns our heroine into more of a puppet than someone with power. Yet throughout all this Ree never looses her strength even in moments of emotional drainage.

The film may seem frustrating in this aspect yet these are the same emotions Ree feels. Both the audience and Ree desperately want clues to come together, we want people to open up, and we want Ree to save the day.   We feel this way because Jennifer Lawrence’s performance convinces us this is a real girl we can root for.

In the end Winters Bone is a great film for its striking imagery and its vision of a decaying America. Where buildings, cars, and drug labs are tattered. Where human beings are physically and emotionally run down. Where there are rules that one does not dare mess with. It’s a poetic crime story of a desperate young woman on a bleak journey and one of the best films of the summer.

-Andy Motz