Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Winter's Bone

Giving a film the compliment that it has a distinct atmosphere and feel to it, is one of the most important ones to give, as it implies that the film has managed to tranport its audience with an impressive level of immersion. Whilst this is definitely one of Winter's Bone's greatest achievements as an example of fine cinematic art, it is far from the only.

From the first scene, one gets the feeling that there is something different to Winter's Bone – viewers are immediately confronted with a sombre colour palette of dark screen filters and a distinct sense of silence that gives the film a creepily eerie quality. This combination of elements results in a haunting movie that is downright scary and intensely stressful for most of the runtime.

But what's even more significant about the film is that (even with all of this darkness) Winter's Bone still has a whole lot of heart, mainly due to the fantastic breakthrough lead performance of Jennifer Lawrence. Jennifer Lawrence imbues this very depressing story with a strong sense of conviction, as she struggles on relentlessly to ensure a better future for her broken family. A formiddable ensemble cast joins her, which includes brilliant contributions by John Hawkes (Hardball, The Perfect Storm, Miami Vice) as the protagonist's only supportive family member and Dale Dickey as one of the many people adding to her frustration with her current position in life.

The numerous interactions that the lead has with others in the film are a true joy to witness, as each and every one comes over as noticeably authentic and painfully unforgiving. The dialogue feels sincere and contributes to the film's strong lingering quality. These realistic encounters results in the audience developing a true sense of empathy for the characters, as you quickly get envelop in the trials that they face.

"These realistic encounters results in the audience developing a true sense of empathy for the characters, as you quickly get envelop in the trials that they face."

As already mentioned, Winter's Bone has a very distinct feel to it, which might explain why the film's more intense and violent moments come over as even more visceral and impactful than they would have otherwise. The story is also masterfully paced, attesting of the relatively unknown Director Debra Granick's knack for eliquent filmmaking.

To put it bluntly, Winter's Bone is more than just a worthy contender for the Oscar for film of the year. Its distinct feel results in a hauntingly awesome movie that all seasoned film buffs should appreciate immensely. Casual movie goers might however find the film's heavy approach tiring and cumbersome (which is kinda the point , by the way).

A touching end gives the film a strong sense of  resonance. 
Highlight: During a very heated confrontation with some of her community's more agressive members, the exact degree of the protagonist's incredible sense of conviction becomes very apparent.

Rating: 4-and-a-half Meerkat tails

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