Winter’s Bone

Winter's Bone is a safe movie that follows a tried and tested path, never pushing the plot or characters to the potential they promise.

Winter’s Bone is a reasonably well-made drama that falls short of being exceptional. It is a safe movie that follows a tried and tested path, never pushing the plot or characters to the potential they promise. It tries to be a realistic, bleak and emotional story from Midwest US, but instead plays out like a fairly dark bedtime story, happy ending included.

20-yr old Jennifer Lawrence stars as 17-yr old Ree Dolly looking for her missing father. Her father, a criminal who cooked drugs, put up their house for bail, but is now missing. If he does not turn up for his court-hearing in the next few days, Dolly loses her house. With two younger siblings and an ailing mother to look after, Dolly must find him, dead or alive.

While director Debra Grank makes a satisfactory movie out of this plot, it plays safe and therefore fails at becoming memorable. Lawrence’s performance is adequate, but again, not exceptional. The cold detachment she projects towards her father – we learn she has no reason to hate him – ensures we do not sympathize with her. Dolly goes back and forth between her home and those of others she knows to inquire about her father, but never really ventures out, never goes the length she possibly could, considering the dire alternate she and her family face. In effect, there is no sense of desperation in her need to find her father. She faces little danger, apart from once instance when she is badly beaten up. The better-off neighbors feed her horse and give them enough to eat. Everyone who starts out as a menace eventually turns around to assist her. The resolution to the film is equally underwhelming – help comes unexpectedly from all corners.

Winter’s Bone is the typical clichéd American independent film. Much like in mainstream Hollywood, the bulk of American independent film creativity seems to have mistaken a set of rules for creativity. While not a bad movie in any sense, Winter’s Bone becomes a by-the-books forgettable film because of the company it is in. In fact, so much so that by the time the movie ends, the title of the movie makes little sense, and there is no curiosity to find out why either.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

About Shariq Madani

Shariq is a social, talkative, fun-loving guy who enjoys books, food and a long drive. But his real joy is in the comfortable darkness of a cinema, watching a good movie, and later spending hours discussing it.