Volume 23, Number 9 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | July 9 - 15, 2010

Koch on Film

BY ED KOCH

“Winter’s Bone” (+)
While this film is well worth seeing, it is not a home run.

The setting is the Missouri Ozarks. While the accents made it difficult for me to understand everything that was said, the drama taking place was very clear.

Seventeen-year-old Ree (Jennifer Lawrence) lives with her family — including her sick mother who is unable to speak, and her younger brother and sister. Her father has disappeared after having been arrested for making the illegal drug, methamphetamine (meth laboratories apparently replaced the making of moonshine). Ree is told by the sheriff that if her father does not appear in court the following week, her family will be evicted from their home — which her father had posted as bail. She promises to bring her father in.

In search of her father, Ree goes to see her relatives, the type of people who would have been denigrated in the past by being referred to as “hillbillies.” We’re taken on a tour of their lifestyle, and it is not pretty — nor is it safe for Ree, who is beaten up for pursuing her father’s whereabouts. We learn that he is persona non grata among his kin, because he endangered the lives of others involved in the manufacturing of meth when he spilled his guts to the sheriff.

Ree’s uncle, Teardrop (John Hawkes), who appears to be a very dangerous man and perhaps even crazy, saves Ree’s life. A scene involving Teardrop stopped by the sheriff on the road, each with a gun, is spine-chilling.

My eyes never left the screen throughout the entire movie. Jennifer Lawrence and John Hawkes are both excellent in their roles. The film is a gem. If subtitles had been provided so as to better understand the dialogue, it would have been a brilliant diamond.

1 hour, 40 minutes; Rated R; Drama. Screening at, among other places, the Angelika Film Center (18 West Houston St.). Call 212-995-2000.

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