Film #352: WINTER'S BONE
3 out of 5 stars
Exemplary performances all around in this “Americana Noir” about a young girl with the weight of the world on her shoulders trying to find her AWOL father and save her land. Jennifer Lawrence (who was nominated for an Oscar for her role) carries this film in a big, bad way, but every other person acting along with her is just as mesmerizing. What I liked most about the performances is that everybody - down to the extras in the crowd - have “faces” and are wholly individuals. WINTER'S BONE’s dialog is delivered effortlessly - even by the non-actors - with some of them giving whole back-stories with not a word said - only grim and knowing facial expressions. Their performances are acting subtlety personified. That said, the plot does meander a bit and, in the end, tells a story that is not exactly original (even if the setting and the dynamic is). Plus… it’s heartbreaking to see such a strong young woman as Ree (Lawrence) spending her life surrounded by shitheads and tweakers who are all ultimately doomed. Even at the film’s close, I couldn’t help thinking that the environment and the poverty portrayed in the film would one day win out and claim even the bright lights of strength that Ree and her siblings represent. And while this story is one of resilience, it’s demoralizing to know that these characters could only hold out for so long before they too succumbed to the blight that surrounds them. Director Debra Granik, is to be commended for bringing a decidedly non-Hollywood tale and setting to the screen.