Well, if you thought your life was tough: no money, boss is mean, family drives you crazy, can’t stop drinking beer” Hey! Try moving to the Ozarks where searching for your Dad’s bones or ‘pushing meth’ is the local’s solution to a hard day’s work.
Review by Lucy Griffin
Crashing down on the bleak terrain with such powerful force it just might win her an Oscar later this month, leading lady Jennifer Lawrence owns her role like a lioness with her teeth sunk into the neck of a deer (or in this case, squirrel). Somewhat of a lost daddy’s girl, Ree Dolly (Lawrence) is sadly slated to take over her mother’s role as family caretaker for her little brother and sister and now-catatonic mother. Then she’s suddenly confronted by a new responsibility; locate her dad or lose their home.
Standing in her way of her desperate mission is the fearless, the unstoppable (my personal hero) villain John Hawkes as her intimidating Uncle, Teardrop Dolly. What can I say about John Hawkes? This actor inhabits his role with great ferocity. Underneath the exterior of this menacing meth-head killer, he remains vulnerable and loving, yet somehow all the while terrifying and cruel. It’s an astonishing performance.
A formidable actor, John Hawkes posits himself to take the crown as possibly the greatest character actor of all time (including Pete Postlethwaite, a posthumous shout out to this unearthly talented man) and it has to be only a matter of time before Hawkes will be stepping up to the podium to collect one of those well-deserved award statues. Both Hawkes and Lawrence have been nominated for acting Oscars, and Winter’s Bone has been nominated for both Best Picture and Best Adapted screenplay.
The surprise standout of this movie, however, is Dale Dickey as Merab, a meth man’s hard-ass wifey. Oh Dale Dickey, with a face like (gosh, please excuse me when I say) a crackhead and the chops of a python. Sadly, I believe she will go unnoticed, sailing beneath the over-hyped award ceremony fanfare, but I wouldn’t just start feeling bad for her just yet. Dickey is another character actress who has got her foot in the door of all the great casting agencies in town. You may have already seen her in My Name is Earl or Breaking Bad but you have never seen anything like her performance in Winter’s Bone. Cold-hearted killer, she ain’t nothing like the sisters I grew up with. As terrifying as her turn is in this movie, presenting perhaps the biggest obstacle and ironically the stepping stone to solving Ree’s dilemma. It’s the beautifully intricate writing that is the road for this brilliant vehicle (Dickey) driving the plot and drama. You sorta love Merab from the minute you meet her, claws and coffee out. (See the film – you’ll understand.)
Winter’s Bone was directed and co-written by Debra Granik, whose feminine approach is necessary to present the vulnerability and fragility of each character, including the men, but who also has the hard-ass masculine tone of cowboy filmmaker Clint Eastwood. If you like movies with great stories and great actors – well, who doesn’t? – see this indie gem. Watch Winters Bone if you need a better outlook on your life. Then be happy it’s in Los Angeles and not the damn Ozarks.
Now playing in cinemas