sat 15/06/2024

DVD: Winter's Bone | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Winter's Bone

DVD: Winter's Bone

Jennifer Lawrence deserves her Oscar nomination for this powerful mythic backwoods thriller

Jennifer Lawrence mixes heartstopping vulnerability with precocious grit

The timely arrival on DVD of Winter’s Bone as it heads for the Oscars ceremony gives a fresh chance to dwell on the film’s unshowy riches. Jennifer Lawrence plays 17-year-old Ree whose father has disappeared, leaving her to care for an invalid mother and a much younger brother and sister.

If she can’t find him, a bail bondsman will repossess the family house in the Missouri backwoods.

Her search takes her fearlessly into terrain patrolled by vengeful crystal meth dealers who trade in natural justice. Lawrence deserves every plaudit for a performance which mixes heartstopping vulnerability with precocious grit, while director Debra Granik turns the wintry Ozark mountain landscape into one more menacing character threatening the peace. This is not your regular teen movie.

The film was adapted from a novel of the same name by Daniel Woodrell, but seems to reach back even further to a deep well of grim mythic narratives. In a small community where word travels on the wind and family bonds are brittle, Ree’s search for her father has an elemental quality which reaches its climax in a scene of Aeschylean horror involving a boat, a body and chainsaw. Standing out in a partly amateur cast, John Hawkes plays a hatchet-faced junkie uncle who finds a redemptive spark somewhere within (you may wish to use the subtitle facility to help with some of his mumblings).

Among the extras is a making-of documentary filmed in the distracted observational style of the movie itself. It reveals just how skeletal a crew was used to capture a story that is itself as lean as the squirrel we see Ree teaching her little brother to skin. Listen out too for a bluegrass soundtrack, so often used in Hollywood car chases but here bearing the rare kitemark of unplugged authenticity.

Watch the trailer for Winter's Bone

Ree’s search for her father has an elemental quality which reaches its climax in a scene of Aeschylean horror

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