Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Blood Bonds

Director: Debra Granik
Writers: Derba Granik and Anne Rosellini
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Garret Dillahunt
2010 | United States | R | 100 mins

The cold that encompasses the landscape of the Ozark Mountains is as familiar as the tension between the bloodlines existent in these rural regions of Missouri. Both this feeling of frigidity and the haunting awareness that you alone can only account for your own survival is what is deeply rooted in the structure of Winter's Bone and the story of Ree Dolly, based upon the novel of the same name by Daniel Woodrell.

Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence), a 17-year old girl forced to care for her younger siblings because of an absent father and mentally unstable mother, is now up against losing her family's home if her meth-cooking father does not show up for a court appearance. This adds more fuel to the already burning fire that is destroying the Dolly family as poverty barely lends them enough to eat and the cold winter is all-consuming. Having to grow up too fast Ree has to seek the answers to her father's whereabouts which will uncover darker secrets that haunt all the bloodlines in cold rural Missouri.

Having read Daniel Woodrell's novel, Debra Granik captures the cold icy grasp of family betrayal so hauntingly layered that Winter's Bone will send chills down your spine with its tense portrayal of a girl forced to carry her family on her back. The adaption is extremely faithful and Debra and co-screenwriter Anne Rosellini flesh out a tale of blood and family to the screen as expertly as Woodrell carved the original story. Jennifer Lawrence gives an absolutely flawless and strong willed performance. Her portrayal of Ree Dolly is so believably true to the nature of the character and the mental scars her life has inflicted on her that every emotion is masterfully and minutely executed that her pain and perseverance enters your very soul. John Hawkes, who plays Uncle Teardrop, is both menacing, calculating, and tender when it calls for it. Every cast member plays their role with such conviction that not once does the viewer leave the atmosphere heavily created by the film.

Winter's Bone is a film so rare these days where feelings and ideas of pain, hope, family, and trust are every bit as real as they are cold and encompassed by one's surroundings. Debra Granik and crew have crafted a film of enormous emotional suspense that stays true to the novel's almost backwoods noir and triumphs as powerful cinema that fully latches onto the viewer. I hope that we can see another female director nominated at the Oscars this year, and most definitely nominations for the cast as well, because Winter's Bone is the best American film of the 2010 thus far and will grab you with its powerful tale of family bonds.

All contents copyright 2010 Tyler Baptist

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