This is almost a cliched Sundance film – dark, brooding, slow but steady and with a big cathartic experience at the end and a lot of intense acting. Winter’s Bone tells the story of a hardcore, teenage girl that is on the hunt for her crystal-meth-making father who has skipped bail and gone missing. This is not an “easy” film to watch, but if you like slow, suspenseful dramatic thrillers with lots of strong performances, you’ve found yourself at the right film.
Find out more about Winter’s Bone below…
- Director: Debra Granik
- Writers: Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini, Daniel Woodrell and Based on the Novel by: Daniel Woodrell
- Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Dale Dickey, Garret Dilllahunt, Sheryl Lee, Tate Taylor
- Cinematography by: Michael McDonough
- Music by: Dickon Hinchliffe
Jennifer Lawrence play “Ree Dolly”, a 17-year-old girl who lives in the Oznark Mountains and has to take care of her two younger siblings and her mentally ill mother. When her father skips bail, she sets off on a quest to track him down and get him to court no matter what the consequences. In her quest to find her father she redefines the meaning of loyalty and family.
- The Performances: The performances across the board were extremely solid. John Hawkes is both menacing and yet you side with him which is not an easy combination to to portray on screen. As for the lead of the film…
- Jennifer Laurence: She has such a strong and serious presence on screen for someone so young and beautiful, not many young actresses her age could pull off such an emotionally strenuous role as subtly as she does in this film. She’s also what kept the film from falling into a pit of despair when things go wrong. Her gumption is what keeps you going even when it feels like all else is lost.
- The Suspense/Music: If it weren’t for the build up and well placed music this film could have easily been a snoozer while watching her walk from one house to another. Luckily Hinchliffe did a great job of adding intensity and desperation to the performances as well as the overall mood.
- The Cathartic Experience: There are a number of slow, dark films out there, but few with a pay-off as intense as this one for both the characters and the audience.
- Dialogue: Some of it’s completely repetitive and unnecessary, the performances give you far more than the words do (which is odd seeing as it won the award for best screenplay at Sundance – go figure!). It would have been nice for the director to let the performances do the talking instead of some of the poorly written dialogue.
- Run-time: The biggest problem is that the film was too long and at times far too slow. It was a good 15 minutes longer than it needed to be in the first act. Luckily it redeems itself in the last act so that you can leave the theater feeling like you got something from it.
Although it was rather slow and long, it built up quite nicely, had amazing performances and a great pay off in the end.
Winter’s Bone is in theaters June 11th!