By: Jim Weekes
Rating: 8 out of 10
Winter’s bone is another one of those movies that started off small and garnered a ton of attention as the months went by, much like many of the other best picture nominees this year. So is this film really worth the nod and the attention it has gotten? Certainly.
It should be noted right off that this movie isn’t great but it isn’t bad either. It is a solid drama that is beautifully shot and acted, but it certainly drags at times. Essentially the film centers around a tough as nails teen who has to care for her two younger siblings and socially inept mother in the deep backlands. Things go awry when the law shows up at her door and tells her that her house will be taken away if their missing father doesn’t show in court. This basic plotline sets in motion the rest of the film.
For every compelling moment in the film, there are a couple scenes that are lacking intensity. It’s certainly more a character study than a straight drama. The film doesn’t break any new ground, but it treads on old ground with pride and the result is certainly good. The best way to try and compare Winter’s Bone to anything else would be if you took the raw style of The Hurt Locker and mixed it with the journey of Cold Mountain. Jennifer Lawrence’s performance as the rough and tough teen protagonist fits well alongside some of the year’s other noteworthy female leads. This year has certainly been a year of great female roles and this is among them.
Like mentioned before, this film certainly contains some of the most compelling and gritty scenes in this year’s catalogue of films (especially a scene towards the later half that is certainly one of this year’s best scenes in film) but keep in mind it also contains some of the driest. It is a polarized film for this exact reason; it could be great at one moment and just ok at others.
The film deserves its nomination (not in the top, but bottom 5 at least) but in the end it’s not good enough to win over the voters. The film is without a doubt worth seeing at least once, but it doesn’t really warrant more than two viewings.
This movie is available on dvd and blu-ray now so pick it up or rent it before the awards.