7 December 2010
Cold Snap- WINTER'S BONE Review
It's about Ree, a headstrong young woman who lives in the Ozarks in Alabama, caring for her mentally ill mother and her two younger siblings in the absence of her delinquent father. Said daddy has jumped bail and put his only asset, the family home, up for his bond. This gives him a week to show up before his bondsman takes the house away. In the sparsely populated community, everyone is related by some way or another, and Ree begins a potentially deadly endeavour to find out which of her relatives knows the whereabouts of her father.
The interesting thing about Winter's Bone is that it's so much more about the atmosphere than about the narrative. That's most apparent from the fact that it's ostensibly a whodunnit, but when the credits roll, you'll have no clue who did it, but you'll still feel like you've travelled somewhere, and learned something about th characters. You get certain Oscar contenders that are to be admired rather than enjoyed, and in that scheme of things, this is a film you have to absorb the tone of rather than enjoy it. In that respect, it's an infuriating thing to review, because although it's very good, I would struggle to know how to recommend it to anyone.
It only makes the character and resolve of Ree all the more remarkable, watching her get knocked down and keep pushing forward in her determination to protect whatever excuse for a home she has within this unforgiving part of the world. As she treks from homestead to homestead through wintry forests, we realise that it's not a coming of age tale. Ree has already came of age, albeit prematurely, and the challenges she faces in the search for her father cruelly antagonise what scant security she has.
The hard-faced misogyny and conservatism that the many of the antagonists are so deeply rooted in is actually personified by a woman- Merab, played by Dale Dickey. She's really quite frightening as the devoted wife of one of the local bosses, and she's only matched by John Hawkes as Ree's sole ally, her uncle Teardrop. Even Teardrop is as traditional and damaged as those who are trying to silence Ree, and he makes for a compulsive and suffocating presence throughout.
Winter's Bone is still showing in selected cinemas nationwide, and arrives on DVD and blu-ray on 31st January 2011.
If you've seen Winter's Bone, why not share your comments below? If you ain't got any men folk that could do that, you gonna get et by hogs.
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.