Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Winter's Bone

Seventeen-year-old Ree lives in her parents' Missouri house. She takes care of her much younger siblings as well as her mother, who seems to be suffering from depression and/or Alzheimer's. Dad is gone, missing. They're barely making it when the sheriff shows up and explains to Ree that her father posted the house as part of his bond. If he doesn't return by the time of his hearing, the house will be forfeited to the bailbondsman.

She knew Dad occasionally cooked some meth from time to time, but had no idea he was in this much trouble. Her uncle, Teardrop, tries to convince her that his brother is dead and to give up the search. But Ree is determined to find him and save the house for the family. She really cannot see any other way out of this fix, so she goes to relative after relative, each of them tougher and meaner than the one before, and all of them trying to impress on her, sometimes in a physical way, to leave well enough alone.

This is a brilliant movie. You as the viewer feel the cold coming into a November Missouri as well as the cold frost from her near and distant relatives. You ache for her, because she's growing old before her time and she knows she, as well as the two kids and a helpless mother, will be homeless before too long. You feel her determination, and you know she's not going to give up.

It's a mystery. It's a character study. You may have a weird uncle in your family, but you've never had relatives like this, cousins who are involved in nefarious activities and maybe they don't want some little girl poking in their business for all kinds of reasons.

The movie is also a study of how women are treated. what their roles are in this rural setting. Most of the women we see have no real power of their own -- they don't have a car, they don't have any money -- but they wield their own power within the clan. It's a fascinating portrayal of rural but modern women. You sense that Ree is different, but there really isn't much escape for her, even if she manages to keep the family together.

Thumb's up for what is one of the best films I've seen all year.


At 11:29 AM, Blogger Sheryl said...

I had no intention of seeing the movie until I read your review. It was amazing.


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