Socialist Worker

Winter’s Bone: Uncovering places and people in the US we rarely see

by Mark L Thomas
Issue No. 2221

Jennifer Lawrence as Ree

Jennifer Lawrence as Ree

Ree is 17 years old, and is the glue that holds her family together in rural Missouri.

Played by Jennifer Lawrence, Ree is an impressively determined and believable character.

Her mother suffers from depression and Ree looks after two younger siblings.

Money is tight, and the generosity of neighbours helps them get by.

But their fragile existence—like that of millions of Americans—hangs by a slender thread. Nearly a million homes were repossessed in the US last year, and the numbers are rising.

For Ree though, the threat to her family doesn’t come from a bank but a bail bondsman.

Her father is facing an imminent trial for making the drug crystal meth.

He has used their home as collateral for his bail without telling his family. And now he’s disappeared. Ree’s family teeters on the edge of a precipice.

Ree’s search for her father to get him to turn up at court drives the film’s narrative.

The camera captures a landscape littered with the tossed aside products of industrial production—old cars, tractors, furniture and other debris accumulated outside people’s houses.

There are few options for making a living.

Ree is met with evasion and then violence when she asks around about her father.

Some critics have called Winter’s Bone “grim”. But this mostly reflects a distaste for films about the reality and quiet desperation of poor people’s lives. It’s a serious and sensitive film about people and places in the US we seldom see.

Winter’s Bone
Directed by Debra Granik
In cinemas nationwide

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Article information

Tue 28 Sep 2010, 18:03 BST
Issue No. 2221
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