Quickie: Winter’s Bone

Winter's BoneRee Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) looks after her mentally ill mother and two siblings when a bail bondsman shows up telling her that her father is out on bail for producing methamphetamine, and if he doesn’t show up to court, she risks losing her house as part of the bond. Ree then goes in search of her wayward father, risking everything to prevent her and her family becoming homeless.

There’s a bleakness to Winter’s Bone that never lets up. Even during its lighter moments, which are few and far between, there is a ubiquitous, unrelenting dreariness that could drown lesser films. However, Winter’s Bone uses it to its advantage, totally enveloping you and drawing you into Ree’s struggle. This family isn’t as much living as surviving, and there is always the sense that Ree’s life could have been so much more. However, the fact that her family comes above everything else shows that there is real purpose to the character and this is film’s driving force.

The two main roles on display here are Lawrence’s Ree and her uncle, Teardrop, played by John Hawkes. Both actors are superb in their roles and well worthy of their Oscar nominations in 2011. Lawrence in particular shows that she is more than capable of handling a lead part, and it’s no surprise that bigger roles have since come her way.

Winter’s Bone isn’t the most accessible of films, and some may be put off by its somewhat slow pace and largely uneventful (not a criticism) plot. However, it’s an affecting film that will resonate with many as a tale of austerity and family struggle, and one that has a real warmth under its icy exterior.

4 pigeons

4/5 pigeons

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57 thoughts on “Quickie: Winter’s Bone

  1. Great review πŸ™‚ I didn’t know what to make of this film, I thought it was a tad bland…but it’s got a great atmosphere and Jennifer Lawrence is fab in everything!

  2. keith7198 says:

    This is a brilliant movie. It was what opened my eyes to Jennifer Lawrence and even though she’s heralded for her performance in Silver Linings Playbook, this is my favorite film of hers. It also opened my eyes to John Hawkes whose Teardrop may be one of the most frightening and unnerving characters I’ve ever seen in the movies.

    • John Hawkes was superb, quite similar to his role in Martha Marcy May Marlene. He’s such an underrated actor in my opinion. And Miss Lawrence is excellent too, not sure which of her roles I prefer but I can’t deny how good she is in this.

  3. I’ve had this recorded on my DVR for SOOOOO long now!

    Your review may be the straw that broke the camel’s back, I may have to finally just make sure I watch it! Nice review buddy!

  4. Frame Rates says:

    This was the movie for which Jennifer Lawrence should have got her Oscar. They dropped the ball in my opinion. Hawkes is amazing as usual and it was one of the bleakest films I saw last year. Awesome review again!

    • Thanks very much! πŸ™‚ Lawrence would definitely have been a worthy winner, although I haven’t seen all of the nominated films from that year. It was definitely bleak but that didn’t stop me from thinking it was great.

      • Frame Rates says:

        Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right)
        Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole)
        Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone)
        Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
        Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)

        A hard year admittedly, and Portman won, but I think Lawrence was almost perfection in Winter’s Bone. She was strong yet vulnerable, which has to be almost impossible to convey well? I dunno. Amazing movie.

      • Hmmm, I’ve actually only seen this and Back Swan of those nominees! Definitely think Lawrence rivalled Portman though, it was a great performance.

  5. theipc says:

    I STILL need to see this….. great post!

  6. Hunter says:

    I started watching this once, but I was really tired so I fell asleep 😦 I know what you mean about uneventful plot. I’m going to try again when I’m more awake! I did want to find out what happened but…yeah. It was a mistake to watch this when I was really tired and just wanted to watch a movie. You gotta pay attention to this one.

    • Yeah it is definitely not a film to watch if you’re a little tired, it’s not exactly action packed! It’s very performance driven so it is best if you can fully concentrate on it. I recommend giving it another go, though.

  7. CMrok93 says:

    Good review. I think I’m the only one on the face of the planet who didn’t give a crap about this movie. The performances were good, but that was just about it for me.

  8. claratsi says:

    never seen this but I may check it out. Heard of it of course and would be interested to see how Lawrence is in it before the big-time. 4/5 is enough to suggest a viewing πŸ˜‰

  9. filmhipster says:

    Jennifer Lawrence = I need to see this, like now! Nice review Chris!

  10. ruth says:

    I like Hawkes and Lawrence and though I’m curious to check out her Oscar-worthy performance, somehow I’m not as excited to check this out. Maybe one day when I’m in the right mood for it πŸ˜€

    • Well it took me a while to get round to this one for that very reason Ruth, I was never seemingly in the mood for it. I’m glad I did though eventually, though. It’s bleak and not the easiest watch but it’s worth giving it a go.

      • ruth says:

        I think the bleak part is what kept this one at bay but since you highly recommend it, I’ll give it a go one of these days. I figure it’d be the antithesis to the glitz and glamor of Gatsby, ahah.

      • Haha, yeah I can imagine it’s the polar opposite! It’s the insulin to Gatsby’s sugar rush πŸ™‚

  11. Nick Powell says:

    I have rented this a dozen times, had it in my Netflix queue forever, but never watched the damn thing.. Probably should by now. Good quickie. I forgot Hawkes was in it!

  12. sati says:

    I really liked that movie a lot. Lawrence was incredible but for me Hawkes stole the show, he was so goooood and his character was just fascinating. It’s a very bleak movie, yes, but I saw it several times for the performances.

    • I would definitely watch this one again and I think that speaks volumes for the performances, I wouldn’t normally watch a film like this again. Hawkes was great and it was unfortunate that he was in such a tough group of nominees at the Oscars.

  13. Garrett says:

    Nice review. When I first saw this I had no idea who Lawrence was. That’s a strange thought now that she’s such a big star.

    • Thanks man. It’s already hard to think of Lawrence as anything other than a big star. I wish I’d seen it before that though, would have been nice to see it without any preconceptions of what she’d be like.

  14. Great review, but I still don’t like the film. Why? Reminded me of my childhood. Yuck!!!!!

  15. robbinsrealm says:

    Excellent review! I agree with your take on the film.

  16. ckckred says:

    Nice review. This was a great movie and I thought Lawrence was more deserving of an Oscar here than in SLP.

    • Thanks man. That seems to be a very popular opinion to be honest. I thought Lawrence was well worth her win for SLP, so I don’t know whether she was *more* deserving for this, but it definitely wouldn’t have surprised me if she had won.

  17. Great review. I agree, and I really enjoyed watching this one in the cinema when it came out. Lawrence was excellent

  18. Alex Withrow says:

    Nice quickie here. I love the grittiness of this movie. It’s so redneck raw. You’re right, definitely not the most accessible of films, but wholly effective.

  19. Popcorn Nights says:

    I liked this a lot, loved the feel of it and its hard edge. Lawrence was superb. I’ve only seen her in X-Men: First Class apart from this, so need to see a few of the other stuff from the last year or two.

  20. “is this gonna be our time?”

    Loved this movie, was actually the first film I saw J. Law in. Hawkes was amazing in this one.

  21. Who doesn’t love a quickie? πŸ˜‰

  22. vinnieh says:

    Glad you reviewed this, Jennifer Lawrence was superb in this.

  23. Can I ask, what determines whether you write a “Quickie” review, or a full-length one? It seems odd to me, because, A. I don’t see much difference using X amount of words, and Y amount of words or whatever, if it’s the right amount for the piece to write about, then, it’s the right amount, but also, well, I haven’t seen every film you review, it seems like the quickie are the ones, I’d think were worthy of writing pages on while the full reviews are full reviews, seem like films I’d think not much would be needed to write on. Just curious, seems like an odd distinction to me.

    • I quite often make up my mind as to whether it’ll be a ‘quickie’ as I’m writing it. The two major things that determine what kind if review it is are how much time I have available and how much I have to say about the film. Sometimes I simply don’t have much to say about it when compared to other films. As for which reviews you think are more worthy of longer reviews, well that’s purely your opinion and could well be different to everyone else. Hope that clears it up a bit.

      • Yeah, and I like all your reviews; I guess I just have a small objection to the notion of a “Quickie” review. For instance, the greatest theatrical review ever written, was for Samuel Beckett’s play “Waiting for Godot”. The critic, who’s name I can’t remember offhand, wrote:

        “Waiting for Godot is a two-act play where nothing happens twice.

        And that was it. That was the entire review, the headline was large, and everybody thought the rest of the review was on another page in the newspaper, and the were shocked when the couldn’t find it, but it’s an accurate description, and a good review of the play. So, that’s where I was coming from, that a review is a review, and to me, whether it can fit on Twitter or take up a novel, I just don’t see much difference, so I was curious why you made the distinction.

      • Yeah I see where you’re coming from, that’s a valid point, most definitely. I guess the reason I distinguish between the two is to just break things up a little. Even though there’s not a huge amount of difference between the short and longer reviews, it just feels like something a bit different. I also like to think it helps readers, if they see the review title in their email or reader, know that it’s going to be a shorter review before they read. I dunno, it might seem an odd distinction to make, but it’s one that I feel works for my blog and people seem to respond to. I’ve had a few comments saying that they like the ‘quickies’.

    • Hmm. Well, alright, if most of the readers like it, then I guess it’s fine. Yeah, I tended to find it odd, but I’m not everybody. I had something similar on my blog where I would, on the rare occasions where I saw a movie at the theatre, I would call it, an “extended review”, and that lasted, maybe three times, because, I’d then start writing, on the same blogpost, I’d have reviews of other films that were two or three times as long as the extended review, so that became pointless, and I just referred to them as “Special Reviews” now, to distinguish, so maybe, you’re right. .

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