Posted June 22, 2011 by Alex Moss Editor in DVD/Blu-ray
 
 

Winter's Bone DVD


A mesmerising journey into a
world that you never want to be part of, yet thanks to a stunning lead
performance will never want to leave.

Great films transport you to
places you never knew existed
. Star Wars (1977) took us to a galaxy far far away,
Avatar (2009) took us to the planet Pandora and The Matrix (1999) took us
inside cyber-space. Winter’s Bone
transports you to a completely earthbound location and yet it is one that is
alien enough to become like an abscess in the brain, a constant niggle that
resides there refusing to let you go
. There are no aliens here, nor space
ships or evil programs just people who on the surface look familiar, but convey
a menace that will send a chill through your very existence.

High
in the Ozark Mountains lives Ree (Lawrence)
a seventeen-year-old girl who takes care of her traumatised mother and young
brother and sister. When her drug cooking father fails to turn up for his court
case Ree is told that she has to find him or the police will take her house
away as it was used to pay his bond. Rea must navigate through the dangers and
politics of the local drug community in order to track down her father, all the
while trying to pass on her survival skills to her small siblings.

To
many the concept of a community that thrives on the manufacture of drugs may
seem difficult to comprehend. How can such a thing exist in plain sight with
little interference from the authorities? Yet Winter’s Bone makes you believe
in it, never doubting that such a thing must certainly exist. What makes it all
the more staggering to behold is that Winter’s Bone does not try and explain
it, there are no voice-overs or pre-credit titles to inform you of the places
it will take you. Instead the film implores
a level of intelligence upon its audience and allows you to gradually become
part of the world, so much so that, and this is its most mind altering
achievement, that you feel part of it to such a degree that you never want to
leave
. Those who have read the book it is adapted from, by Daniel Woodrell, will know what awaits
but, those coming to it fresh will delight in its all-encompassing presence.

The community is not a
welcoming one, rife with hostility and aggression round every run down farmhouse
and stable
.
The deeper Ree digs into her father’s location the more her hard-knock resolve
is tested. The fear of the unknown
bristles with everyone Ree meets and at no point are people’s motives anything
other than ambiguous
. Even her uncle Teardrop (Hawkes) seems to posses a
rage that Ree is all too nervous of.

Much
of the hostile world is projected through intelligent directing. Debra Granik,
in only her second feature as director after Down To The Bone (2004), uses
authentic locations and allows the tone of the film to fill every frame. Such is the atmosphere she elicits that you
feel the chill from Winter’s Bone begin to penetrate through the screen and
into your blood
. Her style is subtle and often understated allowing you to
become immersed in the world of the film. At no point does she resort to
anything glamorous, instead letting the locations and inherent stillness convey
the emanating terror that remains like an undercurrent of emotions rather than
ever boiling to the fore. Furthermore
her use of a washed out pallet further stresses the bleak world that Ree
inhabits
.

Key to Winter’s Bone
startling realisation is a central performance from Jennifer Lawrence
, who should rightfully see
her catapulted into the A-List category of actors. As Ree she carries the film
on her young shoulders and, despite Ree’s tough exterior, you cannot help but
fall for her completely. Every nuance of
the character in Lawrence’s hands is measured yet evocative to delightful
effect
. Rarely will you see such reserve and control in an actress so
young. There may be bigger names
fighting it out for Best Actress this year but none are so deserving as
Lawrence
. Special mention should also go to John Hawkes as Ree’s uncle Teardrop. Always a bankable character actor here he injects a quiet menacing
power into his character and one that somewhere beneath the surface lurks a
heart aching tragedy.

The marvel of Winter’s Bone
is its ability to stay with you long after the final credits have rolled
. You long to help Ree in her
strife and hope that her gumption will see her through any trouble that lies in
wait. The resounding image of innocence so juxtaposed to the bleak world Ree
inhabits makes Winter’s Bone one of last year’s most startlingly realised films
and one that demands to find as wide an audience as possible. Wrap-up and set out on an odyssey to chill
the very core.


Alex Moss Editor

 
Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com