Winter's Bone (2010)
June 12, 2021 5:03 PM - Subscribe

An unflinching Ozarks girl hacks through dangerous social terrain as she hunts for her meth-cooking father in order to keep her family intact.

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Winter's Bone is a 2010 American mystery drama film directed by Debra Granik. It was adapted by Granik and Anne Rosellini from the 2006 novel of the same name by Daniel Woodrell. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence as a teenage girl in the rural Ozarks of Missouri who, to protect her family from eviction, must locate her missing father. The film explores the interrelated themes of close and distant family ties, the power and speed of gossip, self-sufficiency, poverty, and patriarchy as they are influenced by the pervasive underworld of illegal meth labs.

The film won several awards, including the Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic Film at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. It also received four Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress in a Leading Role for 20-year-old Lawrence (the third-youngest Best Actress nominee) and Best Supporting Actor for John Hawkes.
There are quotes there from the positive reviews of the movie, including one saying this movie is one of the greats of feminism in film.

Poster's thoughts:
Due to circumstances, I basically stopped watching new movies when they came out starting around 2000 unless they were biggies with huge advertising that interested me. So Winter's Bone came and went and it was never on my radar. Then at some point in the middle of the last decade, my brother wanted to see it and got it through Netflix. We sat down to watch it and were blown away. Jennifer Lawrence is a revelation. John Hawkes is brilliant as Teardrop the uncle. I had seen him in other things over the years and I did not recognize him in this movie. The two kids who play Ree's younger brother and sister do great work. The people Ree meets as she goes along all have great material and they use it well.

Supposedly, the scene where Ree meets an Army recruiter (an actual real life Army recruiter) was ad libbed; Ree asked questions and the recruiter's responses were totally off the cuff. It is a great scene.

While I don't have much experience with the Ozarks, I have seen enough of a state that is largely rural and has also been hit hard by a bad economy and meth to know the locations in the movie are definitely as they appear, with junk just left all over around ramshackle houses and all. It's all beautifully shot. Granik the director and Rosellini her partner in the adaptation deserved the awards they won.
posted by Fukiyama (14 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Man I love this movie. I watched it at home after hearing about how amazing it was I think from the filmspotting podcast and it delivered. It's both inspiring and depressing. I can see why this was Jennifer Lawrence's calling card as an actor.
posted by Carillon at 6:35 PM on June 12, 2021 [3 favorites]

I had forgotten how heartbreaking Winter's Bone is in the first five minutes. The production, the writing, the characters, and all of the performances make it a great movie. But Jennifer Lawrence makes it special. Jennifer as Ree Dolly is up there with the likes of Christopher Reeve as Superman & Clark Kent and Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lector as an example of perfect casting.
posted by Stuka at 8:07 PM on June 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

I need to re-watch this now. It's been a few years.
posted by essexjan at 2:06 AM on June 13, 2021

Can we talk about the book for this one?
posted by Ashenmote at 6:33 AM on June 13, 2021

Can we talk about the book for this one?

This is the movie, so no spoilers for the book.
posted by Fukiyama at 7:49 AM on June 13, 2021

This is the movie, so no spoilers for the book.

Thank you!

Okay...the first time I saw it was at a feminist film festival November 2010,long before the official film start in Germany, by sheer luck and knowing nothing about it. It has been one of my favorite movies since.
I'm afraid the criticism that this is poverty porn is not without merit, though I would parse as a comment on genre rather than the quality of Winter's Bone. A wonderful story, and Jennifer Lawrence plays a perfect Ree Dolly, and not to forget: Dale Dickey's Merab was one of the scariest movie characters ever to me, and that's even before they went on a boat ride.
posted by Ashenmote at 9:18 AM on June 13, 2021 [3 favorites]

I talk about this film a lot, because I grew up in the rural Missouri Ozarks, and this movie just gives me an uncanny feeling it's hard to explain. I've never seen a movie that just captured the environment of my upbringing so accurately - even though I grew up mostly before meth moved in; it was all pot growing when I was a kid.

The houses - the dirt roads! I've walked those roads and ridden a school bus an hour down those roads and turned my headlights off for brief, daring minutes driving around on those roads. It's so hard for me to describe what a culture gap I have just living in a normal, small, non-Ozarks city having come from THAT. Wearing castoffs and hand-me-downs and army surplus. Farm equipment piled up or abandoned. Weird, suspicious, clannish families and distrust of authorities. Pulling up to someone else's house and they're butchering something in the yard. I mean - this is all RIGHT. It's TRUE.

I just. It kind of gives me shivers, to see it. I get a little of it from, like, Sling Blade, but Winter's Bone is just so spot-on.
posted by Occula at 11:01 AM on June 13, 2021 [13 favorites]

In retrospect Winter’s Bone feels like a screen test for Jennifer Lawrence’s later role in Hunger Games, the same way that potential James Bond actors get cast in Bond-like roles to test their credibility. The feudal family structures presented in this film as she searches for her father are so perfectly represented and so rewarding to watch develop over the course of the film. I particularly like Teardrop’s change from a threat to an ally without ever quite losing his aura of danger, and the visibly strained relationship with the neighbors who support Ree’s family.
posted by migurski at 11:08 AM on June 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

this shoulda been the oscar. finest performance of the year. courage, desperation, determination, sadness moving across her face in seconds. terrific film.
posted by j_curiouser at 2:51 PM on June 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

Wow I had no idea what this movie was about, and it's right up my alley.
posted by rhizome at 6:18 PM on June 13, 2021

This is right up there with Requiem for a Dream in the realistic horror category. Those two back-to-back would be quite a movie night.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:21 PM on June 13, 2021

In retrospect Winter’s Bone feels like a screen test for Jennifer Lawrence’s later role in Hunger Games

very much so. iirc this role was the stated reason why she was even offered it, and the performance was so strong it completely diminished any initial plans to actually have a mixed-race Katniss per the books -- the only sop to it was her darker skintone in the first movie (yes, awkward...) which of course completely went went away in subsequent movies.
posted by cendawanita at 1:02 AM on June 14, 2021

If you liked "Winter's Bone," get a copy of "The Outlaw Album" by Daniel Woodrell (2011).
Twelve stories, and some of them stay with you for a long while. As Occula said, you might know these people.
posted by TrishaU at 10:18 PM on June 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

I got on this movie through the Guardian.
posted by jouke at 12:23 PM on October 28, 2022

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