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Sundance Grand Jury Winner is well worth seeking out

By Matthew Arnoldi - Posted on 19 October 2010


Raw, visceral, realistic, uncompromising but also engaging to watch, Debra Granik's second feature, Winter's Bone, deservedly won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and the Waldo Salt Screenwriting award.

When 17 year old Ree's father goes missing in the desolate wooded expanse of the Ozark woods in Missouri, Ree (Lawrence) is left to look after two siblings by herself since her mom is also sick. The house then gets threatened with repossession and Dolly's only hope of keeping it, is to track her down the whereabouts of her father.

Ree though comes up against a hostile community who are not into divulging secrets and there are some in the community who had an axe to grind with her daddy. In delving into the murky dealings of her father, Ree puts her own life at risk but she has no choice but to carry on, even though the lives of young siblings she is fending for, depend on her wellbeing.

The film offers a compelling view of a slice of life of a community not prepared to give up secrets easily. The performance of Lawrence in the lead role is excellent and supported brilliantly by the actors playing the young children left in Ree's care. You may not get all the dialogue but you'll get enough of it to follow the story and essentially this is a dark tale that is all the better for being grimly representative of the Missouri community that it focuses on.

Challenging a code of silence, Ree will seek to find out what really happened to her father in a bid to not only find out the truth but also carve out a future for those she has to care for. Its a film that shows the resourcefulness of a 17 year old girl not afraid to gamble with her own life if that is the only choice available to her.

Winter's Bone premiered at the Edinburgh Film Festival after doing well at Sundance, and a decent cast give Jennifer Lawrence the chance to shine in a tense thriller that offers much. Lawrence previously starred in 'The Burning Plain' and is soon to be seen in a film called The Beaver alongside Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster who also directed it.