Friday, 29 October 2010

Winters Bone

 I found the subject matter of Monday nights RBC Film Club so very interesting. It showed a way of life completely alien to our own and one which I hope none of us will have to endure, although the way things are going?

Winters Bone (2009) is the second film to be adapted from the ‘country noir’ novel’s written by Daniel Woodrell, the first being Ride with the Devil (1999) a civil war drama adapted from his 1987 novel Woe to Live On by director Ang Lee. Both films are set on the Ozark Mountain region of the central United States, a landscape the author knew from his childhood. The area covers much of the southern half of Missouri and an extensive portion of north-western and north central Arkansas. It also extends westward into north-eastern Oklahoma and into extreme south-eastern Kansas. Much of the Ozark population is of German, English and Scots-Irish decent and has lived in the area since the 19th century.

After securing the rights to the novel writer and director Debra Granik has made one of the best films of this year. It manages to show in precise detail how the people that make up the Ozark society live out their bleak, almost destitute, existence. Their main income comes from the cooking crystal meth and crack and the film shows us burnt out crack houses along with the effects of addiction. It also shows the poverty stricken wooden houses with their accompanying grave yard of old rusty trucks. Also illustrating how the social structure of this stark and neglected community is rigidly enforced.

The main thrust of the story involves 17 year-old Ree Dolly, with her mentally ill mother and absent father, she is left to raise her young brother and sister. As if her impoverished life isn’t bad enough the local sheriff informs her that her father Jessop, a well known crystal-meth manufacturer, is only one week away from breaking his bail conditions and if he does not turn up in court the family will loose their home. If this happens Ree’s mother will end up in a mental institution and the two young children will be forced to stay with relatives. Ree must find her father, desperate she turns to Jessop’s brother Teardrop for help.

Home from home for Ree Dolly
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at this year Sundance Film Festival this compelling movie reinforces the view that the USA can make a good movie without loud music telling you when and where you should laugh or cry and without the need for special effects. Yes there is no denying that the subject is bleak but I’m afraid life is not always the fairy tale we imagine it to be. Granik makes a very credible and honest job of this movie as does the brilliant cast. Special mention must be made of Jennifer Lawrence who plays Ree and the very convincing John Hawkes as Uncle Teardrop. As I have previously said it’s both interesting and involving but does demand your full attention. Those of you that appreciate good cinema should endeavour to see this movie. DVD to be released on 31st January 2011.

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