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[Reviewed by: Danny Moltrasi]

“I’ll find him...”

After visiting another 2010 Sundance film previously with Cyrus, we now move onto the winner of both the Grand Jury Prize: Best Dramatic Film as well as the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. That film is Winter’s Bone, written and directed by Debra Granik. As the title suggests, the film is cold, distant and sparse, however, that does not stop it from being an extremely effecting film. It is a simple story, but one done with such emotion that it elevates it from your average film.

Seventeen year old Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence), has to look after her younger brother and sister, as well as her mother who is mentally ill. Struggling to cope as she is, she receives the news that her father, a crystal meth maker has skipped bail, and used their home as a bond. As a result, she is required to find her father, in the hope of securing some sort of future for her family. However, knowledge of her father’s whereabouts is not given to her at ease, as members of the local area are not too willing to give out information.

The most striking aspect is the feel and look of the film. It looks tremendously cold, unwelcoming, not look like a nice place to be. There are lots of grey’s, the landscape, the sky, the clothes; they all look old, worn and tired. This perfectly sets the tone of the film, in which main character Ree is never welcomed or encouraged to continue her pursuit of her father. This continuous blocking of her attempts makes the audience frustrated on her behalf, ‘it just doesn’t seem fair!’ Without giving too much away, the ending shot of her and her younger brother and sister, in turn with everything that has come before, becomes all the more powerful as the three of them sit together cuddling. It provides a moving ending for a moving film.

Director Debra Granik creates and constructs the film fantastically, and as mentioned, provides the perfect tone, however it is Ree, played by Jennifer Lawrence that is the key in the performance. She is a powerful figure in the film, not only for how she copes with the situation she has found herself in, but how she changes herself from being a sister, to mother and father for her siblings. She cares for them, feeds them, while also taking on the traditional masculine roles of teaching them to hunt. It is an extremely empowering position for a young girl to have, and a challenging one that she rises to. Ree, in many ways, becomes the ideal female role-model, and Jennifer Lawrence makes this very believable. It seems to me, to be a fairly fresh approach to female empowerment in film, which often slips into the female just taking on a male role. Instead, she does what seems to me, is a whole lot more realistic and she takes a dual role of both male and female. Lawrence’s presence on the screen grows as Ree does, and credit has to go to Lawrence for pulling it off.

Winter’s Bone is one of the best films to come out this year, and with the increased number of nominees in the Best Picture category at the Oscars, I would not be surprised to see it in there. Winter’s Bone is hard-hitting, empowering, and at times a scary portrayal of a girl in America. Director Granik and Jennifer Lawrence are both key to the film’s success, and picking up the main award at Sundance, to me, seems thoroughly deserved. It is not a perfect film, and it is not quite the best film of the year, but it is hard to envision how they could have made this haunting story much better.

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Comments
  1. CMrok93 says:

    I wasn’t totally involved with this story, but the acting and character driven element made me like it more. Still, I think it’s the weakest out of the Best Picture race this year! Good review, check out mine when you can!

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