Good dramas are hard to come by, and when one comes along, it's something to savor. Writer (with Anne Rossellini)/director Debra Granik give us "Winter's Bone," a powerful drama that will grab you with nails digging and never let you go.
Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) has more responsibility than any 17-year-old should bear. Things become more complete when the law shows up on her doorstep and informs her that her drug cookie dad is in danger of skipping bond. If that wasn't bad enough, her father had put the family home and property up for the bond, meaning if he skips bond, Ree, her mother and younger sister and brother will be out on the streets.
While their home might not be much, the ramshackle house is all they have. Ree takes off on foot to track down her dad and save their home. Finding resistance at every turn with family and non-family, she finally receives help from her uncle Teardrop (John Hawkes) when it becomes apparent his brother, and Ree's father, is dead.
As with any quality drama, the film picks up its intensity as it goes. When Ree ventures into the night in a boat with a chainsaw to find what she needs to set herself and her family free from the ominous cloud hanging over them all, the intensity reaches its crescendo.
The film is powered by Oscar-worthy performances from Lawrence and Hawkes. Both actors are effortless in their roles, and Lawrence is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the future. We'll next see her in "The Beaver," along with Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster.
Hawkes is that everyman who you might not remember right off hand, but once you put the name with the face, his ability makes him hard to forget. A truly gifted actor.
The other actor who really caught my eye was William White as Blond Milton. He has the same ease as the leads, has some powerful moments and and the grittiness which the landscape called for. White, it turns out, is a wire cutter by trade and says he'll be going back to his day job in the
"Making of" featurette on the disc.
Although it's Hawkes and Lawrence who make the film, it's the Missouri landscape which defines it. If Granik had chosen another location, I truly believe it would have lost much of its punch.
The disc boasts the 43-minute "Making of" featurette, as well as some deleted scenes and an alternate opening. You have the typical trailer and a one of my favorite commentary tracks I've heard. It's not a bare bones "this is how we made the movie" track. It includes the multiple stories of how the film was blessed with unforeseen coincidences.
"Winter's Bone" won Best Picture and Best Screenplay at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, and it won't be the last pieces of hardware this fantastic drama picks up.
Final Cut: One of the best films you'll see all year. Lawrence and Hawkes' powerhouse performances are something to treasure in a film that is mesmerizing.
4.5 out of 5 Stars
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, William White, Kevin Breznahan, Dale Dickey, Garret Dillahunt
Director: Debra Granik
Writer: Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini
Available now from Lionsgate Home Entertainment