Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Winter's Bone: Monday, May 28 2018

Winter's Bone (2010) is billed as a drama, or a "gripping thriller." It certainly is both. An honest slice of life among the people who live in the rural Ozarks of Missouri, it has an overall aura of fear. What are these people capable of, and what will they do next?

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.

In spite of that, the immediate reaction of my Film Group was that it had been a gruelling couple of hours. We had been watching a world totally foreign to us. We were impressed by the courage of the people, that they could exist at all in such an environment. Their world is outside the law of the United States, but inside their own brutal law, which has its own rational. They are free, and live their lives as they want, without any interference. I was left with the feeling that they were, in fact, feral human beings. Like feral cats, they look domesticated, but it doesn't take too much to see that they are far from domesticated. We saw Ree Dolly grow up, as she accepted her world, and learnt how to cope with it.

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.

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