Monday, January 31, 2011
Movie Monday -- Winter's Bone
First off -- my review of The Rite is over at Para Posse right now!
So, when the 2011 Academy Award nominations were recently announced, Mom and I anxiously watched as the nominees were announced. We were happy that we'd seen many of the flicks mentioned (True Grit, Inception, The King's Speech, and Mom saw The Black Swan). But we'd never heard of one film that received a Best Actress and Best Picture nod, Winter's Bone.
Quick to remedy our ignorance, we rented it and watched it. Yes, we even missed the sure-to-be-Oscar-nominated-next-year SyFy flick featuring Debbie Gibson AND Tiffany -- Mega Python vs. Gatoroid (I know, I know -- epic fail on our part to have missed that gem!).
So, Winter's Bone, what can I say about it but OMG you NEED to see this movie.
And I usually don't watch movies like this. They feature real-life problems, very dark and gritty, and I prefer the escapism of comedy, fantasy, or horror in my flick
s. But this one -- I was riveted.
Winter's Bone is based upon the novel by Daniel Woodrell, an author who actually lived in the area in which the book is set. The story centers on a few weeks in the life of seventeen-year-old Ree Dolly. Ree lives in the Ozark mountains
with her mom and two younger siblings, a brother, Sonny, who's 8 or 10, and a 6-year-old little sister, Ashlee. Ree does not go to high school -- she's needed at home to take her siblings to school and perform the necessary chores for them all to live, like chop wood, hunt dinner (squirrels), and take care of their mom, who is near-catatonic from a nervous breakdown and medication she now takes.
Uhm, yeah -- this is not the teenagers on Glee, that's for sure. No, this is rural Missouri, where people are dirt poor, hunting for meat and making money illegally -- by making crystal meth. Ree's dad has been arrested and charged with this crime, and therein lies Ree's problem. His court date is next week, the Sheriff cannot locate him and -- if Jessup doesn't show for his court date, then the family house and timber lands go to the bail bondsman.
Ree, her mom, Ashlee and Sonny will all be left out in the woods.
So, in Mattie Ross fashion, Ree takes matters into her own hands and attempts to locate her daddy, going to her uncle, Teardrop, and then various cousins in her quest to save her family. Unlike True Grit, which has elements of tall tales and larger-than-life-characters (Rooster Cogburn and his reins-in-teeth-shoot-em-down approach), there are no Texas Rangers or US Marshalls who help and protect Ree. She soon learns that she is all on her own, and these people, even her cousins, don't take kindly to her prying into their money-making activities.
Aside from Jennifer Lawrence's performa
nce as Ree, which is spectacular -- it's really the life of these rural people that makes the story. This is a quiet film -- there is action, but most of it depends on the characters of the people in the story. This is a world where, whether or not you're a teenager -- people may call you "child", but they won't hesitate to curse at you or throw you around like you're an adult. There are no kid gloves used in this movie. The men rule the families (Ree has to ask permission from her friend's husband before she can enter her friend's house), and they say things like "I told you to shut up with my mouth already."
The women listen, but when it comes to other women, they won't hesitate to throw hot tea in your face and whack you so hard with the mug that you lose a tooth. It's brutal at times, and all the more so because these are not caricatures, but real people do live this way.
I can't really say more about the story without giving away spoilers, and trust me -- you don't want to be spoiled here. But suffice it to say Ree eventually does get help from a close relative, and the ending is surprisingly satisfying.
All in all -- if you've seen the other Oscar-nominated films, you need to see this one. It's quite worthy and definitely well-acted.
And now here's to hoping SyFy will re-run the Python-Gator/Tiffany-Debbie movie!!!