Let me just begin by saying that Winter’s Bone cannot even be measured on the same scale as Sucker Punch. This isn’t to say that Sucker Punch is a bad movie. As I admitted in my previous post, I actually enjoyed it. But I appreciate Winter’s Bone in an entirely different, more serious way. Directed by Debra Granik, it tells the hauntingly beautiful story of Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence), a 17-year-old taking care of her younger siblings and ailing mother in the middle of nowhere. Turns out, her father, recently out of jail for cooking meth, has put the house up for collateral for his bond. Ree has to either find him alive to show up for his court date, or prove that he is dead in order to keep her home.
That’s the briefest of brief overviews of a movie that delves much deeper into the complexity of human nature and female power to survive and intrigues until the end. I’m not giving it justice here, but suffice it to say, the film is sensational, and Lawrence absolutely deserved her Oscar nomination. As someone who values character development, I became very emotionally involved in Ree’s struggles on her search for her father and well, survival. She is the strong female character I would wish for in every movie, persisting in the face of obstacles every which way she turns, from something as basic as lack of transportation to getting beat bloody by distant backwoods acquaintances, standing up to both men and women in her way. But Ree isn’t the only one who draws you into the movie. There’s also her friend, Gail (Lauren Sweetser), who has to ask her husband for permission even to borrow the truck (because it’s “his”), but who ends up coming through by leaving and taking it with her. Thank God. Because the compromise within marriage she references early on in the movie isn’t actually compromise at all, but patriarchy personified in the home.
As for the male characters, I couldn’t help but find myself becoming attached to Teardrop (John Hawkes), Ree’s addict uncle. This was a gradual attachment that occurred throughout the course of the film because it certainly did not start out that way. Especially with the comment he makes to his wife. He begins by telling her to shut up, and when she keeps talking, he says something to the extent of “I told you with my mouth the first time.” I mean…really? It’s awful to think that Winter’s Bone offers eerily realistic depictions of everyday life for some people. But that’s a different tangent. Teardrop becomes more and more protective towards Ree as the narrative progresses and his raw feelings begin showing, maybe inadvertently. The point is, they’re there, and they’re touching. The last image of him is a striking one, foreshadowing hopelessness.
One of my issues with Sucker Punch was that it only hinted at things instead of actually getting at them. But I digress since I’ve already said we’re speaking of different playing fields here. Winter’s Bone gets at everything it needs to get at though, in a heartfelt, gut wrenching way with its character portrayals and accompanying, fitting soundtrack that kept me glued to the screen.