Winter’s Bone

I always think people like to watch family movies over the holidays – in fact, I was incredulous this weekend because one of our friends said they’d never seen “The Sound of Music”.   I was floored, especially since I was in our high school production of it (yes, just like Prince Harry I once wore a Nazi uniform in public…) – and it’s one of The Beloved’s favorites.  He must be an out-lier.   I think the story of love and family overcoming long odds to stay together resonates, especially at this time of year.

Anyway, I was thinking about that last night as the Beloved and I settled in to watch “Winter’s Bone” which I didn’t know much about, other than that it had won all sorts of Independent Spirit/Sundance awards.  Indeed, this was another tale of family overcoming long odds in the mountains, but there were definitely no marionette shows or gazebo dances.

In the film, 17-year old Ree Dolly (wonderfully played by Jennifer Lawrence) endeavors to find out what happened to her deadbeat, hillbilly, meth-making Dad, while trying to care for her younger siblings and her incapacitated mother.  Sharp, but not completely wise in the ways of the world, Ree runs afoul of intrigue in her closed-off Ozark community, where the meth trade has become the economic driver, and family loyalties and grudges run deep.

Winter's Bone

The film is grim, filmed in greys and browns – and the frost-hardened Ozark woods are as much a character as many of the people, mostly dead and strewn with the detritus of this broken community.  The residents are hard and mete out “justice” according to their own rules and traditions.  There is an unflinching view into the casual violence that infects life in this community – in many ways it reminded me of “The Sopranos”, but with bad clothes and teeth.

Yet, Ree is never seen to complain about her life and its crappy circumstances – she doesn’t whine on facebook (I don’t think I saw a computer or cell phone in the entire film now that I think about it), daydream about a different life, or vent to her one close friend.  She just deals with it – doing what she has to do to keep her family together.

Okay, so maybe it’s not for the whole family to watch — put this on after the kids have watched “The Sound of Music” and gone to bed.

8 stars out of 10.

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10 thoughts on “Winter’s Bone

  1. agreed, it was a good movie. I have known people in similar living circumstances and this film hits pretty true. Yes, there are people in America that live this way. More than you would probably guess.

    • It reminded me of a Montana state program that we saw on our big cross-country roadtrip in 2006. Apparently, meth has gotten really out of control on the rural prairie and Indian reservations. They’ve started a huge campaign to stop it.

  2. This is one of the few movies getting Oscar buzz that I actually want to see. (The others are Love & Other Drugs, 127 Hours, and *maybe* Black Swan, since the rumor is that Best Actress is Natalie Portman’s to lose.)

  3. LOL at the thought of you in a Nazi uniform…even if it was for a high school production of “The Sound of Music.” I tried out for the part of Maria when I was in high school, thinking my rudimentary guitar skills would win over the choral teacher; but she said my voice wasn’t strong enough for the sustained high notes. I think in retrospect she was just too kind to say I had a voice that could make dogs howl and babies cry.

    I also enjoyed “Winter’s Bone,” if you can use that verb as a reaction to such a searing, often scary film. The young actress who plays Dolly should be nominated for an Oscar. I was thinking afterwards that we often associate the “drug problem” with the inner cities and “ghetto culture,” but even in rural Minnesota whole families were involved in meth manufacturing and sales. When Mexican gangs moved into the trade, a drug war broke out: nothing as bad as what’s going on in Mexico, but there were frightening stories about children and the elderly being killed in dealer disputes. Hence I don’t complain too much about having to ask for Sudafed at the pharmacy counter, even when my sinuses ache.

    • Yes — “enjoy” isn’t quite the right word… 10 minutes into it, I turned to The Beloved and said, “I’m depressed…” — but it’s compelling storytelling for sure.

  4. There may have been some rotten teeth among them Sopranos as well! Were you Rolph -the delivery guy? Nothing quite like the Sound of Music. Winter’s Bone sounds worth a look. Thanks for the review.

  5. Pingback: The Friday Five: Oscar Edition | Stevil

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