AWFJ Women On Film – “Winter’s Bone” – Review by Susan Granger

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“Winter’s Bone” is a serious, sensitive, stirring 9, revealing a gritty, cruelly uncompromising world within the confines our of our own country.

“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” — Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Recipient of the Grand Jury Prize and the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at Sundance, this dark, rural noir revolves around a plucky, courageous 17 year-old named Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) who dropped out of high school to raise her two younger brother and sister in the Southwestern Missouri Ozarks. Her silent, obviously brain-traumatized mother is near catatonic while her drug-dealing father, who ran a small-time crystal methamphetamine lab, has been arrested and jumped bail, leaving the family shack as security, meaning if Ree doesn’t find her pa or prove that he’s dead within a week, the property will be seized, leaving whole family homeless.

“I will find him,” she tells the sheriff who informs her of this dilemma.

Embarking on a mythic journey through the bleak, barren hills, making her way from home-to-home, asking but never begging for aid from her equally alienated and impoverished kinfolk/neighbors, she shunned and warned off for violating the accepted code of silence, receiving a brutal beating for her indomitable determination and tenacity. Menace hangs heavy in the chilled air as she struggles to survive, even after enlisting the reluctant help of her treacherous Uncle Teardrop (John Hawkes on TV’s Deadwood”).

Adapting Daniel Woodrell’s novel, director/co-writer Debra Granik (“Down to the Bone”) and Anne Rosellini, spent two years delving into the culture of the mountain people. Like “Frozen River,” the perceptive authenticity rings true despite the low budget. Dickon Hinchliffe’s sinister score helps, as does casting non-pro locals. After a memorable turn in Guillermo Arriaga’s “The Burning Plain” (2008), Jennifer Lawrence never overplays the pathos, delivering what may be this young actress’s breakthrough performance.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Winter’s Bone” is a serious, sensitive, stirring 9, revealing a gritty, cruelly uncompromising world within the confines our of our own country.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.