Jennifer Lawrence, in 'Winter's Bone'

Dir. Debra Granik
(2010, R, 100 min)
★ ★ ★ ★

From the very beginning, Winter’s Bone gives us a vivid sense of place. Set in rural, backwoods Missouri, it introduces us to Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence), a seventeen-year-old girl raising her younger brother and sister by herself. Her father comes in and out of their lives and in and out of jail, where he is a frequent occupant for cooking crystal meth. Her mother is unable to function on her own; she’s “sick,” Ree explains, but not physically. Director Debra Granik’s camera subtly captures a landscape of dilapidation and neglect, of poverty as a matter of fact. In its unadorned naturalism it bears more than a passing resemblance to Frozen River, another drama about the desperate lives of the hand-to-mouth poor, except this film is even better.

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