Saturday, August 13, 2011

Winter's Bone on DVD

Winter's Bone was one of the ten Best Picture Nominees for this year's Academy Awards. I don't normally care about the Oscars because they usually celebrate movies that are sort of obscure or ultra-artsy, but this year had a lot of good nominations, movies I was actually interested in, regardless of their Hollywood popularity. With Winter's Bone, I've now managed to see all but one of the Best Picture Nominees, that one being The Kids Are All Right, which I wouldn't be opposed to seeing, though it's not high on my list.

Winter's Bone is, in my opinion, one of the weaker titles to be nominated. Something about its completely depressing nature and the grayness of the story and cinematography must have appealed to the Hollywood populace, but there's not even that much of a storyline. It's dark, oppressive, sometimes morbid, and will leave you feeling like you've glimpsed Hell. So, no, I don't recommend it.

The basic plot is this: 17-year-old Ree takes care of her two younger siblings and mentally-detached mom. Her dad, extended family, and neighbors are all country bums who cook drugs, abuse their wives, and intimidate the law. When the law comes looking for Ree's dad to meet his court date or lose his land, it's up to Ree to find out what became of him and save her home. But no one's talking, and when Ree pries deeper, she gets into big trouble with her dad's rivals. But Ree is tough, "Bread and Butter" as she calls herself, loyal to her people. She won't go to the law for help they can't give anyway, and she'll find her dad, even if she's beaten bloody along the way. SPOILERS follow. In the end, her dad is dead, she takes the bones of his hands back to the police as proof so that she doesn't lose her land, and she goes on living the way she always has, taking care of her family in a miserable hell of a world.

I think the movie tried to put a positive spin on the end. Throughout, you see these two young kids making the best of their life, playing even. Perhaps the movie was trying to suggest that hope exists in the midst of all this, but I think it was just trying to be depressing.

The movie is rated R for good reason: language, mature themes, drugs, violence (though Ree's beating is skipped over in the film). I wouldn't recommend this movie to anyone. I didn't love The Fighter, another Oscar nomination, but it was, by far, better than Winter's Bone though it carried similar themes. Black Swan was a more put-together movie, but I still give it last place for inappropriate onscreen sexuality. However, I have a hard time saying which I disliked more: Black Swan or Winter's Bone. Skip them both.

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