05 March 2011

Winter's Bone

This weekend I redboxed a movie called Winter's Bone. It's based on a novel by an excellent American crime writer by the name of Daniel Woodrell. I haven't read the book, but I'm familiar with Mr. Woodrell, who sets much of his fiction in the Missouri Ozarks. The main occupation of the characters in Winter's Bone seems to be avoiding the law while they cook meth. The unfortunate Ree, played beautifully by Jennifer Lawrence, struggles to keep her family together while shit hits the fan all around her. Ree is the oldest child of Jessup Dolly, and she has to care for her younger siblings because her mother is nuts and her father is a fugitive. Ultimately Ree--all of seventeen--has to go toe-to-toe with the head honcho of the vicious, inbred clan they all belong to. It's compelling stuff, particularly because the landscape is filmed so lovingly. The rural ghettos of America are oddly photogenic. I'm not sure if it's the car wreck or the rescue that fascinates us. The folks in Winter's Bone don't expect rescue, but without giving away too much it is safe to say Ree Dolly gets her share of both rescue and car wreck in the story. The acting and writing are both excellent as all the characters have depth and seem believable. Winter's Bone is noir in tone and feel but a surprising and uplifting drama as well. Director Debra Granik gets a tip of the tam o'shanter for an engaging and rewarding film.

1 comment:

Zo said...

Ahh, good. I have been a fan of Daniel Woodrell since I read about one of his earlier works, Tomato Red. I have six of his books and have often thought I would recommend him to you. Winter's Bone is the second of his books to be made into a movie, the first was Woe to Live On (subsequently re-titled Ride With the Devil) about the Civil War era Quantrill's raiders. It is a good movie. Most of his books are much more akin to Winter's Bone, hillbilly noir, set in contemporary times. I did not know about Winter's Bone until I was watching the Academy Awards in Mt. Shasta and heard it was based on a book by Daniel Woodrell. I immediately went to Bloomsbury Books in Ashland to get a copy. There is a fair bit in his books that I suspect would be tamed down for a movie, they can be pretty raw.