Thursday 12 May 2011

Winter's Bone (2010) - Debra Granik

The Oscar nominated film that won…nothing.  Shame.

Set in the rural Ozark Mountains of America, it tells the tale of a young girl (Ree Dolly – Jennifer Lawrence) forced to look after her younger siblings and invalid mother after her father leaves home.  When he skips bail, she must confront her kin and track down her father, or risk losing her home. 

It’s set in a male dominated world of perpetually grey winter – black, silhouetted and jagged trees cut sharply into the white, clouded sky.  Bleak doesn’t begin to describe the look and feel of this film.  Winter’s chill is ever-present, the hand-camera practically shivering in the cold.  Typically American, the dramatic setting is equally foreboding and beautiful.

The population of this world are incredibly territorial.  Women act as gatekeepers for their mafia boss-like husbands and succumb to their every whim.  Ree must penetrate this world, simultaneously acting as caring mother and providing father to her family as she hunts for her dad.  Lawrence plays this role brilliantly, a young girl old before her time who you can’t help but empathise with. 

It’s an intense and captivating thriller.  Whilst the plot may be a little convoluted, Winter’s Bone is artfully shot and well deserving of its Oscar nominations.