Like my book reviews site, these are movie reviews I write for entertainment purposes only. These are just my reviews and my opinions. They are not endorsed by Blogger or any movie studios or anyone else. So there. I borrowed my scoring system from the Metacritic site, which does not imply an endorsement from them, although I think they do have a very nice website. I convert the 1-100 scores into 1-4 stars, essentially it works like this:

1 star = 25 points
2 stars = 50 points
3 stars = 75 points
4 stars = 100 points

And then if something falls about halfway between, then I'll give it an added half-star.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Winter's Bone

I think I remember hearing about this movie from Roger Ebert during one of those film festivals like Cannes or Toronto or whatever.  Anyway, when I saw this was out, I thought I'd check it out.  You might want to remember this too, because it could wind up being one of those films like "Crash" or "Hurt Locker" that's relatively overlooked when it comes out (probably because it hardly played in any theaters) but makes some noise in awards season.

The movie focuses on rural Missouri, which looks about like something from "The Road" or some other post-apocalyptic movie.  In this wasteland is the Dolly family, the matriarch of which is 17-year-old Ree (Jennifer Lawrence).  She has to care for her younger brother Sonny and younger sister Ashlee because her mother is almost catatonic and her father is on the lam for cooking meth.

The problem for Ree is that before he disappeared, her father put the house up as collateral for the bond.  If he misses his court date, the family will be out on the street--or living in a cave.  To avoid this, Ree sets out to find her father.

But the Ozarks have their own set of laws, which are similar to those of the Mafia.  Some of her father's acquaintances (or accomplices) try to keep Ree from digging into things.  With her home at stake, though, Ree isn't going to be stopped easily.

If this is even a somewhat accurate depiction of mountain life, it's pretty terrifying.  As I said before, it's like a post-apocalyptic world up there, or a Third World, where most everyone is living in poverty.  To get by, Ree survives on donations from neighbors and squirrels and other game she can kill herself.

Relative newcomer Jennifer Lawrence is someone you should keep an eye on not just during awards season, but in the future.  She gives a great performance here, keeping the character grounded in reality, without any melodrama or hysterics.  (The complete opposite of Angelina Jolie in "Changeling" for example, who spent that whole movie either screaming or sobbing.)  It's up to her to carry the film, and she does so.

This isn't a nonstop thrill ride or anything like that, but a taut and engaging drama.  I recommend getting in on the ground floor with this one, before everyone else starts talking about it.
That is all.

My score:  88/100 (3.5 stars)
Metacritic score:  90/100 (3.5 stars)

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