The Award-winning film is directed by Debra Granik (55), and adapted by Granik and Anne Rosellini from the 2006 novel of the same name by Daniel Woodrell. Direction, screenplay, cinematography, music, were all excellent. The acting is superb, and each character is totally believable. Apparently some of the cast are locals, conscripted for the movie. Jennifer Lawrence (27) is particularly good as Ree Dolly, and John Hawkins (58) is fantastic as Teardrop Dolly, Ree's uncle.
Ree Dolly has been left by her father to look after her mentally ill mother, and two siblings: a twelve-year-old brother Sonny; and a six-year-old sister, Ashlee. She is coping, teaching the children to handle guns and hunt. They also are trained in preparing meat and cooking it. The family seems relatively happy until the sheriff tells Ree that they are in danger of losing the house. It had been put up as part of a bond to ensure their father would return for his court case. He had been accused of brewing and selling "crank." Will Ree find her father in time? Will she find him at all? The local people try to intimidate Ree, but in the end, come through in a particularly gruesome fashion, that gives the title meaning. Ree doesn't lose the house, and at the end of the film, Ashlee picks up the banjo and plays it with a natural, untaught talent. This leaves the audience with the idea that life will go on. It could be said, loosely, that the film has a happy ending.
We had all been gripped by that world, and were left a little shaken. We were glad to come back to our own world, which is dull by comparison.
The film is Art in the true sense of that word. It has emotional power, and is so honest and raw, it has a beauty of its own. The reviews were excellent, and Jennifer Lawrence became known as an actress. The budget was $2 million dollars, and the box office revenues were $16 million.