Writer: Ezekiel Lee Zhiang YangWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
“Isolation”, “Terribly Happy”, “Deliverance”, “Southern Comfort”, “Shotgun Stories”, “Frozen River”
Sparse and muted but oddly compelling, R-rated indie gem "Winter's Bone" is (at the time of writing) up for four Oscar nods including Best Pic; and it deserves all the distributor attention it's getting, if only because it's the least watched and probably the cheapest of the 10 nominees to shoot. Who would have thought that a US$ 2 million movie could turn so many heads?
It's a winner, alright. Critics have likened this to another Sundance winner, 2008's "Frozen River". Here, we follow "Down To The Bone" director Debra Granik through the Missouri Ozark backwoods of crime writer Daniel Woodrell's 2006 book, where 17-year-old Ree Dolly deals with a sick mother, starving siblings and a missing father - while buying time before her home is repossessed. It's a morality tale about the white underclass and the underground drug trade, underpinned by some remarkable performances from a completely committed cast.
In the lead, a young, classically-untrained Jennifer Lawrence ("The Burning Plain", 2008) puts in a turn so apt and convincing, she gets nominated by the Academy for Best Actress. Her star-making role as an almost dislikeable teenager is mature and suitably under-hit. Joining the restrained brilliance is John Hawkes ("Me And You And Everyone We Know", 2005) who is himself endorsed here under Best Supporting for his role as the menacing uncle Teardrop, a conflicted man with a superb character arc. Other turns include Garret Dillahunt as a stiff local sheriff and a feisty Dale Dickey as the town matriarch.
Perhaps the climax smacked too much of a fable and lacked a more memorable and dramatic reward for viewers but "Winter's Bone" definitely delivers - that is, if you didn't base your expectations on its completely inappropriate B-grade horror movie poster. It may well be the only film in recent times that is genuinely worth watching because some people thought it was Oscar-worthy. You'll like the music, too.Cinema Online, 17 February 2011