Skip to main content

Review: Winter's Bone


Winter’s Bone starts off in the comfortable warmth of a small wood-fired cabin. This pocket of an intimate moment between Ree (Jennifer Lawrence) and her siblings is about to be ruptured.

A visit from the sheriff (Garret Dillahunt) comes to inform Ree that her father is in trouble with the law again. Ree's father has a reputation as a meth cook and his product has lead him to jail several times. His absence suits Ree fine, she can take care of her near-catatonic mother as well as her brother and sister.

The only problem with his latest arrest is that he has put up their home as bail. If he doesn't appear for his trial, Ree and the family will lose their home. Her father's court appearance is near and he cannot be found. Ree can shoulder a lot of weight, but she needs her home to keep everyone on their feet.

If Ree wants to keep her family together she will have to navigate the dangerous Ozark terrain. The occupants of the backwoods are slavishly devoted to their kin and some of Ree's questions prove a little too probing. Teardrop (John Hawkes) could find answers to these questions, but he knows the virtue of not venturing into the affairs of others. Still, Ree won't find her father without the aid of her fearsome uncle.

At first look you would never suspect that Jennifer Lawrence and John Hawkes aren't natives to the Ozarks. Lawrence, until now was only known for her role in the Bill Engvall Show, so her naturalistic realization of Ree absolutely floors you. Character actor John Hawkes bends and conforms to most any role offered, but Teardrop's mix of rage and unnerving calm is absolutely frightening. Hawkes could only communicate in a glare and yet say everything that needs to be said.

Winter's Bone succeeds largely because of its little-known cast who shape-shifts into the characters onscreen and a star-making performance from a young Jennifer Lawrence.

Between Lawrence and Hawkes' riveting performances, the third most prominent character is the small town where everything unfolds. Debra Granik uses the camera as an eye into the harsh beauty of the Missouri woods. Ree treads over thin ice in her search for her father and the landscape effortlessly lends itself to the violence that lurks in her neighbor's hearts.

Ree's harrowing trials only serve to teach her an incredibly valuable lesson: those with little will do everything to keep it.

***1/2 out of ****

Popular posts from this blog

Hulk vs. The Incredible Hulk vs. The Avengers

There are two movies about the Hulk and one that features the green monster as a major player. One was made in 2003 by an auteur, starring a little-known Aussie. Five years later The Incredible Hulk came out to the same tepid reaction as Ang Lee's Hulk did. This weekend, The Avengers made the Hulk as popular as he has been in a long time. So it comes down to this: Hulk vs. Hulk vs. Hulk. Who will smash whom?

Round One: Acting
Edward Norton outshines Eric Bana as the dual persona of the meek Bruce Banner and the rage-induced Hulk. Eric Bana was given little to do but run and fight and often the audience was just waiting for him to transform. With the Incredible Hulk, Norton's Banner is fully fleshed-out and we are given a reason to care about him. Being allowed to go a little dark with Banner's scenes questioning what is left of his life provided emotional resonance to the character that Hulk lacked. Yet even with the capable performance that Norton gives there was something …

Review: The Salvation

Westerns have never recovered from the oversaturation that killed off viewer interest decades ago, but every now and then a gem pops up. Recent successes like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 2007’s 3:10 to Yuma and the Coen brothers adaptation of True Grit all did well because they tweaked the genre slightly, but director Kristian Levring goes with an old school approach. A faithful recreation of those revenge Westerns made so popular in the 1970s, The Salvation envelopes many elements of previous Clint Eastwood classics and wraps it into a tidy package.

The Salvation starts in on the central dilemma, joining Jon (Hannibal‘s Mad Mikkelsen) at the train station where he awaits the arrival of his wife and son. Jon and his brother, Peter (Mikael Persbrandt), have lived in the United States long enough to build a hospitable life for their family back in Denmark. This homecoming should be a sweet moment to establish the family important to Jon, but fate plays out…

Review: The Voices

Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) spends his days working the nine-to-five shift at his new job at the Milton Bathtub Factory. Jerry is chipper to the point that he may turn some people off, but he never stops trying to make friends. Friends are something that Jerry could use because the only other conversation he has is with his dog Bosco and his cat Mr. Whiskers. Things are looking up though, Jerry has been tasked with planning the company picnic and he’s asked a girl (Gemma Arterton) out on a date. Jerry is so excited to share the news he rushes home to tell his pets about Fiona. Oddly enough, both Bosco and Mr. Whiskers start talking back.

No need to go back and re-read that last sentence, yes, Ryan Reynolds has pets who talk back to him. His dog, Bosco, is quite affable, however, his cat, Mr. Whiskers, would feel right at home curled in the lap of Blofeld. Unfortunately for everyone around him, it’s the advice of the evil cat that Jerry heeds more often than not. For all of Jerry’s pleasant…