I’ve been finding it hard to write a review of Winter’s Bone, partly because I found the portrait of grim poverty, crime, drugs and absent kindnesses hard to watch, and partly because I found Jennifer Lawrence’s remarkable heroine who rises above it all hard to believe. The excellent Lawrence plays Ree Dolly, a teen who’s dropped out of high school to care for her younger brother and sister, her Mother’s had a breakdown and is mentally absent, her Dad’s a locally renowned meth-chef, and every other family member (and there are many) is locked into an unforgiving cycle of secrecy and violence.
So I’m not at all sure where Ree gets her quiet resolve. But the point of the film is that she has it, in bucketloads, and when her Dad jumps bail leaving the family home as collateral and her loved ones in danger of eviction, Ree determines to find him. The movie thus tracks her journey – lacking righteousness or bluster or any of those usual Hollywood conceits – down into the depths.
I guess it’s a testimony to the pride that the people of the Ozarks region of Missouri have in their hard-knuckle, resourceful, taciturn way of life that Winter’s Bone was completely embraced by the locals when it filmed on location. For instance, NPR reports that when the wardrobe truck rolled in from Hollywood with a stock of brand new Carhartt jackets, the townspeople realized these would be completely inauthentic, and arranged a collection of their own lived-in, worked-in, worn-down clothes. A lot of locals appear in the cast as well. And in one of those fortunate turns of events, the locals of Greene, Taney and Christian Counties directly benefited too: Missouri Film office has provided an economic impact report here.