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Winter's Bone

Talking just causes witnesses. 

Year: 2010 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Debra Granik 
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Lauren Sweetser  
An image from Winter's Bone

Debra Granik may not be one of the most well-known names in the film industry, but that looks set to change thanks to her second feature film; a breath taking, gut wrenching portrayal of poverty, struggle and strength.

Our hero is the 17-year-old Ree Dolly (Lawrence), a girl who lives amidst the harsh terrain of the Ozark Mountains in America with her deprived family. Acting as carer and sole adult to her younger brother and sister, Ree desperately tries to keep their world afloat, unable to depend on her mentally-ill mother or delinquent father, who is on the run for having manufactured crystal meth. When circumstances deem it so, Ree has no choice but to hunt down her fugitive dad. Traversing the local networks of the criminal underworld, a host of traumatic experiences await the unwavering teenager.

Not for the faint of heart, Winter’s Bone makes no claim to being anything other than a haunting, uncensored dissection of modern day poverty in the Western world, offering just the slightest glimmers of hope in its fearless narrative. Lawrence’s indomitable performance seems to encompass an independent force of nature that could even defy the brutal, unkind climate surrounding her. Submerging the viewer deep into Ree’s unforgiving world makes for a visceral experience as we journey through the turbulent existences of many engaging characters and situations, usually coming out the other end with only the heroine’s perseverance and admirable optimism to comfort us.

Winter’s Bone is almost poetic in its own despair, a work of cinematic art that celebrates the good in humanity as much as it berates the bad. If you’re in the mood for something a gritty and uncompromising then look no further, as no other film this year packs such a beautifully unrestrained punch.

Luke Woellhaf

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Screenings of this film:

2010/2011 Spring Term (35mm)