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“Winter’s Bone” (2010) Mini-Review

Ree Dolly is a teenager who is forced to take care of her mentally ill mother, and younger sister and brother in poverty on their small land plot in the Ozarks. One day, she finds out that her father, a locally popular meth-cooker, has a trial date – a trial that he must show at or Ree loses her house and land which her father put up for bond. And thus begins Ree’s journey to find her father and unravel the mystery surrounding his location.

The Good:

  • Setting – The setting for the film is fully realized, with dreary backdrops of grays and browns, and poverty-stricken families scattered throughout the wilderness. The local area feels wholly real with even the animals showing the same level of misery as the people themselves.
  • Characters/Acting – The acting throughout the film is very natural (with a great performance by Jennifer Lawrence) and makes some grisly situations even more intense. The characters themselves are well-written, and each actor/actress does their part in making the lack of hope for some of these families feel quite real.

The OK:

  • Plot – Ree’s journey itself starts out as a plodding series of house to house visits that serve to reveal no information outside of the fact that no one seems willing to help Ree or offer any information regarding her father outside of lies. While this demonstrates the shaky relationships between the various families, it does little to help the film’s pacing. Once we get past that section, and characters begin to reveal their personalities, the plot starts moving and each . This second half of the film is quite intense (as the overall plot is quite intriguing), filled with many appalling moments.Yet, pieces of the plot remain unexplored and/or aren’t fully developed, causing some elements to feel incomplete.

Short Summary: “Winter’s Bone” is a tense drama, featuring some great acting and a grim story about an ordinary person going to great lengths to take care of her family. While the plot may be plodding at the start, stick with it and you will be involved in a dreary, earnest journey to unravel a  mystery in a drug-riddled community where bad blood runs deep.

Final Score: 7.5/10


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