Winters Bone

LetterboxD review link

This was my first re-watch since 2010. I remember seeing this when it came out, thinking highly of Jennifer Lawrence and hoping for more gritty, difficult, work from her. She hasn’t given us more work like this, although she has given us excellent performances in films like American Hustle. In some ways, like Gabby Sidibe after Precious, young, talented, artistic women are rewarded for powerful debut performances by getting to pick their roles. But the choices they have, so far at least, tend not to push them in the artistic direction. Don’t get me wrong, I have no intention of telling Lawrence or Sidibe what to do, I just find it notable that they have both gone in more popular (also probably more profitable) direction after impressive debut performances.

In any case, Winter’s Bone is a remarkable film. Its tone management is perfect from the first to the final frame. The morose, downtrodden, realism of a 17 year old woman’s life in Appalachia is portrayed very well by Debra Granik (who I wish would create more stories on film). This film, like the book Hillbilly Elegy, has at times received blowback for exploiting poverty or being too mannered to be an authentic portrayal of Appalachian life. I didn’t have such criticisms. I though it portrayed the Appalachian ethos of self-reliance, suspicion, family-above-all, violence and male-centered power very well.

In addition to Jennifer Lawrence’s performance, John Hawkes was a stand out in this film. It is his face that comes to mind when I think of this film.