Film Review: Winter’s Bone

I can’t remember exactly how Winter’s Bone came to cross my radar, whether it was movie magazine recommendation or pure internet review site pot luck. But I am glad it did. It truly is a remarkable and unforgettable film, which is still in my head 24 hours after I sat down to watch it and I’m sure will linger for a lot longer yet.

The strangest part of it all though is that Jennifer Lawrence, taking the lead role, essentially gives her breakthrough performance, she even earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination as a result, and even with the strength of her performance, Winter’s Bone has somehow managed to totally avoid the mainstream gaze. I doubt many people have even heard of it, let alone have a clue what it’s about! And that is such a shame

While it is a stunning film, it’s also a difficult film. This is the only reason I can think of for it’s lack of popularity and celebrity. It tells the tale of a young rural Ozarks’ girl trying to locate her drug dealing father after he skips bail and puts the family home up as a bond. As a result, her search takes you on a journey through the interrelationships of family, as well as the pressures placed on someone forced into a role beyond their years, as well as, the way society views and acts to rumour and mistrust.

I am sure that my quick plot summary really isn’t selling the film to you. After all, I’m not making it out to be a warm and loving film, but it’s not a warm a loving film. It’s cold and gritty and nasty. Winter’s Bone is film making with precision. If you have seen Nebraska you will know how the tone and emphasis of a film can be controlled, manipulated and angled to a specific requirement based upon the colour palette and pace used. Winter’s Bone uses these exact tricks to it’s advantage. It wants to place you into a dirty, almost simplistic world and way of life. A society that feels and acts almost self policing, living within it’s own time frames with a sense of disconnect from modern life and modern technology. And it does this with such power that while you constantly feel like you are looking into this world through the safety of a window, you always feel like emotionally, it’s got it’s hands round your throat pinning you up against the wall for spilling it’s drink.

And it’s from this hold where Jennifer Lawrence really shines and stands out. Stuck firmly in the middle of a world she doesn’t deserve, her portrayal of Ree Dolly has such strength to it that it binds the whole film together on every level you can ask of it and of her. She brings a strength to the role that causes you instantly believe in this girl and the situation she is fighting against. Throughout the film she tugs harder and harder at you, growing more and more into a position of empathy. Forcing you to look at her not with pitty or distain but rather, as a girl shackled to a life she doesn’t deserve, to a life that is essentially beneath her and yet, a life she accepts without question through loyalty and love in a way that would test the resolve of anyone born into a traditional, bubble wrapped modern western life. She makes you realise you aren’t always deserving of the life you lead and the hand you were dealt.

And that is why this film is lingering in my head. Why it’s stuck and won’t leave. Not because it’s a master piece that will going down in the history of cinema as a turning point; but because in a film no one’s heard of, Jennifer Lawrence gave a performance that left me questioning the way I live my life.

I urge you to watch this film; it’s dark and depressing and certainly isn’t a film to snuggle up to with the one you love on a cold, wet evening but trust me, it’s thought provoking film making at its absolute best. And at only 1 hour 40 minutes long, it packs it’s punch in a timely manner too.

9 out of 10 stars (9 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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