With its all too familiar theme of familial collapse and undercurrents of social disgrace and fear of the local customs, Debra Granik’s excellent second feature film could be a British colonial horror from a distant age, and in some ways it is.
Granik’s film is indefinable – part film noir, part fairy tale and an exercise in heritage meditation that evokes the ghosts of America’s greatest underclass chroniclers Eugene O’Neill, Nelson Algren and Pinckney Benedict.
The sins of the father have come to rest on Missouri backwoods resident Ree (Jennifer Lawrence, amazing) when the local sheriff announces that her drug addict father has used the house she lives in with her mentally ill mother and two young siblings as bail bond, which he has now skipped out on. Ree must find her father – dead or alive – in one week to ensue they can remain living there.
From here it’s dead ends and cul de sacs, secrets and lies and ultimately some kind of grisly closure in the dirt poor white trash environs of the Ozark Mountains. Adapted from Daniel Woodrell’s novel, Winter’s Bone is really a recession era morality play underpinned by the odd rhythms, strains and poetry of the Ozarks’ French/American slang (an inheritance from the industrial immigrants that once flowed into the area).
Marshalled with rare intent and skill by Granik and steered by a remarkable professional and non-professional cast, Winter’s Bone is a unique, unsettling and memorable affair.
Selected release, Fri 17 Sep.