Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Video review: "Winter's Bone"
As we edge closer to year's end, film critics have started work on The List.
The List, of course, is the best movies we've seen this year. With 2½ months left to go in 2010, I feel confident "Winter's Bone" will have a place among my Top 10.
This sharp, authentic drama from director and writer (with Anne Rossellini) Debra Granik still grips me. From the spot-on, Oscar-caliber performances from Jennifer Lawrence and John Hawkes to the severe beauty of the Missouri terrain that frames the characters, "Winter's Bone" bleeds its way into an audience's soul.
Lawrence plays Ree Dolly, a smart, willful teenager who dropped out of school to look after her younger siblings and mentally impaired mother. They survive the cold in a ramshackle cabin, relying on squirrel meat and the charity of neighbors.
One day the sheriff shows up to inform Ree her drug addict father has jumped bail after putting the family plot up for collateral. If he doesn't show, they'll be put out.
Much of the plot is taken up with Ree's journey, on foot, to visit her scattered kinfolks in search of her dad. Suspicious of outsiders -- even those with whom they share blood -- the mountain people are unwilling to help beyond the offer of a little cash and menacing warnings.
Even her uncle Teardrop (Hawkes), who's feared by lawman and criminal alike, rejects her pleas for help -- at first.
Expect "Winter's Bone" to show up on a lot of critics' lists.
Video extras -- the same for DVD and Blu-ray editions -- are terrific, and easily turn this disc from a rental to must-buy.
Granik and cinematographer Michael McDonough team up for an excellent feature-length commentary track. They talk not just about how they composed individual shots, but touch again and again on the happenstance that continually blessed the production.
A number of the principle actors were non-professionals they ran into and cast in the film. In the 43-minute making-of documentary, William White is asked on his last day of shooting what he'll do next. The next morning, he says, he'll head back to his factory job as a wirecutter.
The same feature also includes audition footage for several of the actors, which is intercut with the final scene from the movie -- thrilling stuff.
There's also an alternate opening sequence, four deleted scenes, theatrical trailer, links to songs and musicians featured in the film, and a lovely musical sequence set to "Hardscrabble Elegy," the main theme composed by Dickon Hinchliffe.
The lack of a digital copy is the only downside.
Movie: 3.5 stars out of four
Extras :3.5 stars