movie film review | chris tookey

Winter's Bone

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  Winter's Bone Review
Tookey's Rating
4 /10
Average Rating
8.25 /10
Ree - Jennifer Lawrence , Teardrop - John Hawkes
Full Cast >

Directed by: Debra Granik
Written by: Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini , based on the novel by Daniel Woodrell

Released: 2010
Genre: DRAMA
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 99

American miserabilism.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Winterís Bone won a couple of awards at the Sundance Festival, as well as virtually unanimous critical raves. It is a bleak picture of life among the underclass in the Ozarks, an inhospitable region of Missouri where, it would seem, front lawns double as used car lots and squirrels get nervous when the humans are hungry.

Itís notable for atmospheric direction by Debra Granik, which makes good use of local faces and draws heavily for inspiration on Walker Evansí black and white photography. Itís in colour, but the only hues on offer are dirt brown and putrescent grey. It will wow anyone who thinks grimness equals profundity.

The big strength of the piece is a committed central performance by Jennifer Lawrence (pictured), as a 17 year-old trying to save her family home by tracking down her father, who has disappeared while on bail. Lawrence first caught my attention in The Burning Plain, and her intensity is reminiscent of Melissa Leo in Frozen River, a couple of years back, which unexpectedly won Leo an Oscar nomination. Miss Lawrence is a talent to watch.

The film will win praise for being the antithesis of Hollywood, but struck me as an uneasy clash of social realism with Southern Gothic. Weaknesses include too slow a pace and a screenplay that poses a mystery which could be solved instantly if any of the locals treated the central girl with any intelligence. Characters who are impassive in the first half turn pointlessly brutal in the middle, only to become implausibly helpful towards the end.

As a result, a film that is meant to be gritty ends up looking hokey and contrived.

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