Winter’s Bone is by far the best film this year, and while that might not be saying much this being June, any film coming in the fall had better be really, really good cause it’s going to be hard to top this film. It is close to flawless from the amazing cast that includes many locals from the Ozarks to the realistic script to the directing that is so good that you barely notice it.
Winter’s Bone tells the story of 17-year-old Ree Dolly (in a she better be nominated for an Oscar performance by Jennifer Lawrence), a girl who has to grow up way too fast because she has to take care of her whole family. The responsibility is so immense and on top of the care giving she has to do for her younger siblings and her mentally ill mother, she has to find her father and make sure he doesn’t miss his court date or else she will lose the house. The stakes are so very high and her desperation is palpable. She treads into territory and confronts people who are very dangerous to get her answers. But her determination and resilience and love for her family will not let her give up.
I can’t remember the last time I saw a young woman this age on screen carry a movie in this way. Jennifer Lawrence burrows into Ree in a way that is breathtaking. There are times when she is so confused and desperate for an adult, any adult to act like an adult, but them she looks around and sees the devastation that meth has reeked on her family and her community and knows that she is the only one going to make it happen. 17-year-olds should never have to do what Ree does. But she doesn’t complain. She moves forward. She has a wonderful relationship with her best friend Gail, a teen mom with a husband, who helps her and they are so close that they don’t need to even use words to communicate.
This is director Debra Granik’s second film. Her first, Down to the Bone, introduced all of us to Vera Farmiga. Granik is not only a director here, she’s an anthropologist, introducing us to a community of people that most people in urban and suburban settings never get to see. We don’t see rural America because it is hard to watch. But watch we should because this is a film that should not be missed. It is that good. I can’t wait to see it again.
The film opens in NY and LA and will be rolling out across the country in the coming weeks.