April 07, 2012
I suppose the reason I was dissatisfied with this film is because I expected it to be a more absorbing mystery, something spellbinding. Winter's Bone is a much more deliberately paced thriller. It offers subtle enjoyments. The characters are imbued with a gritty, weather-worn rural quality. The actors seem plucked from the Arkansas mountains to perform their parts. Very few people are painted in black and white colors. Because everyone is so morally ambiguous, you're never sure who to trust or to root for, except the girl. Lawrence carries the picture mightily well. She's easy to root for, being the plucky, resourceful type, and possibly the only non-drug addict in the movie.
Winter's Bone has a rustic gloominess which gives the viewer a sense of dread and foreboding. We don't ever know what to expect. However, I found a lot of the searching for clues repetitive, and only minimally rewarding. There's a lot of build up to a climax that somehow feels anti-climactic. Perhaps it was the trash junkie in me that was waiting for a shootout ala L.A. Confidential or something as terrifically suspenseful as last year's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Winter's Bone is hard and realistic, but a bit too measured and stable, especially considering the instability of the characters' myriad situations.
Directed by Debra Granik. With John Hawkes, Lauren Sweetser, Garret Dillahunt, Dale Dickey, Isaiah Stone, Ashlee Thompson, Tate Taylor, and Sheryl Lee.