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Winter’s Bone

In the Ozark Mountain region of Missouri, a young teenage girl Ree looks after her invalid mother and younger siblings in a run-down log cabin.  The Ozarks are a freezing cold, poverty-stricken, rural area and her father’s absense means that Ree must chop wood, hunt animals and provide constant round the clock care for the rest of her family who are entirely dependant on her.  It’s a hard life.

Ree, played by Jennifer Lawrence, takes this all in her stride.  Ree looks and talks like a seventeen year old girl but her eyes look much older and show the weariness of someone who has had a tough upbringing.

We learn all this in the opening few minutes of Winter’s Bone.  How could life get any worse for Ree?  That’s where Sheriff Baskin comes into the picture.  He explains to Ree that her absent father has skipped out on his latest court hearing.  The problem is that the last time he was in prison, he put his property up as collateral for bail.  If Ree’s father doesn’t appear for his trial in a week’s time, then their home will be repossessed.

This sets Ree on her mission.  She must find her father and convince him to turn up for the trial.  She has a single clue to get her started.  She knows her father dabbled in the local drug trade so she’ll have to make some inquiries with some of the shadier folk in the Ozarks.  To make things even more complicated, she meets with Teardrop, her uncle, who believes that Ree’s father might have been killed.

That last paragraph makes Winter’s Bone sound like a thriller or a road movie of sorts.  It’s not, really.  It’s more of a character piece.  Ree, the determined and steely teenager is the film’s protagonist.  The rest of Ozark, feels like it collectively represents one dirty, meth-addicted obstacle who refuse to co-operate and would rather this girl stop putting her nose where it isn’t wanted.

Winter’s Bone is often a difficult film to watch.  Most of the time, although we admire Ree’s courage, we’re also filled with a sense of dread for her wellbeing.  The rest of the time, the film evokes the same sort of feelings as Deliverance does about small-town America.  What the hell is this place?  Can entire town’s really end up like this?  It’s pretty depressing.  It also brought back memories of Louis Theroux’s excellent documentary ‘A City Addicted to Meth‘.

Ultimately, I suspect that Winter’s Bone won’t find a particularly large audience or be remembered in years to come.  It’s an excellent film but its subject matter is very dark.  The Oscar nominations will probably help stretch out its lifespan in the cinema but I suspect its mostly making up the numbers at the Academy Awards, unless there’s an award for most misleading poster.  Seriously, what the hell is this:

About Edo

Edo currently lives in Australia where he spends his time playing video games and enjoying his wife's cooking.


  1. Great Movie!! I was raised in the Missouri Ozarks area where the film was set and filmed. This is the part of the US that loves Sara Palin, Rush Limbaugh (who is from Missouri) and voted for GW Bush twice. I have to say that the film was amazingly “true to life” in every detail. Most teenage girls in the Ozarks have similar levels of responsibility wether “Dad” is around or not. I would also like to say that you don’t have to be desperately hungry to hunt and eat squirrels either. It is considered very good food in the hills. I have eaten it many times and it is delicious when cooked correctly.

    I have been dismayed reading many of these reviews calling it a “fake” and/or “phony” and contrived film. I do understand that the character of Ree Dolly certainly has many wonderful and admirable qualities that seem to have developed in a vacuum. Ree Dolly needs to be that sort of character for the rest of the film to work and not simply be a documentary of the endless poverty endured in the Ozarks for generation after generation. I grew up EXACTLY in that part of Missouri and Ree’s character aside, it is EXACTLY correct in the look, the language and the behaviors there.

    I would also like to address the meth epidemic that has raced across huge sections of the rural Midwest America. I was raised in the Ozarks from 1963 until 2009 and I watched the moonshiners lose out as Sunday Blue Laws and Dry County Laws were voted down or abandoned. Then marijuana became THE big cash crop that survived and thrived for many years until “Daddy” Bush’s anti-marihuana laws poured in tons of money to local law enforcement and new laws confiscating lands forced the richer growers indoors. It was finally in the mid 1990s when you began to see meth force out ALL the remaining marihuana farmers and moonshiners. Counties began to get in meth dealing Sheriffs and the old games were OVER. In my Ozark County (Morgan) during the late 1990s a deputy sheriff’s home mysteriously exploded and then was investigated by the FBI. I watched as the marijuana became hard to find and evil meth take over.

    The people of the Ozarks have always been clannish, hostile to outsiders and proudfully ignorant and primitive in their opinions of society and politics. Those traits are nothing new or something that manifested due to meth. But the introduction of meth has struck down many good men and women who might have made the culture a tiny bit more tolerant or hopeful.

    But along with the continuing devastation of multi generational poverty and vastly inferior schools there is also a great beauty in the land and the people of the region that you can see in a short movie shot in the Ozarks at;

    or my longer version at:

    Many an unbelievably gifted musician lived and died in those hills never having recognition from anyone outside of the hills.

    I strongly urge everyone to watch this movie because it is VERY
    truthful and realistic of how parts of the US survive. It also shows a part of America that is VERY often overlooked because many are (rightfully) ashamed that this sort of 3rd world poverty exits in the US. I personally feel that the Federal US government needs to inject a LOT more funding and OVERSITE of the rural school districts in order to overcome the generations of prideful ignorance that governs the mindset of many born into that rural America culture.

  2. i thought this film was great.

    that poster is completely ridiculous and misleading though.

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