One thing we are a big fan of here at ihogeek is Netflix. In fact, don’t bother recommending a movie to me unless it’s on instant, because if it’s not, I’m going to pretend it doesn’t exist. So, as a service to our Flix users and readers we present a new series of articles that will give a second chance to movies we skipped seeing in theaters. Because one of the few things we love more than instant streaming with no commercials is The Hunger Games, Check out my review of Winter’s Bone starting the future Miss Katniss Everdeen after the jump.
Jennifer Lawrence stars as Ree Dolly in this critically acclaimed movie you probably have never heard of (unless you were wondering why that movie you never heard of got nominated for best picture at the 2011 Oscars). Ree is a high school student that must provide for her two siblings and invalid mother in the Ozark Mountain region of Missouri. Dirt poor and only seventeen with precious little options and too much pride, she resorts to shooting squirrels to feed her family (Hello Katniss, we LOVE you Katniss). But all of this information is woven into the actual plot of the movie (yes, there is plot! There is an aim!).
On the latest day of her perpetual struggle, a local sheriff approaches Ree about her missing crank-cooking father, Jessup. Jessup, with true meth-cooker class, put up their house and land for bond and is nowhere to be found a week before his court date. Ree has to track down her missin’ paw (they don’t actually talk like that in the film) or she’ll lose the house and the only thing making her life manageable.
What follows is not just a journey of determination of an extraordinary young woman without any options, but a gallery of a society that deserves a voice. The Ozark Mountains have their own codes and rules and range of people I can only describe as hardy-mother fuckers. The local crime boss is a god, gossip reaches everyone but the cops, and there are more allusions to getting fed to hogs than I’m comfortable with in one film. It was enthralling to say the least to be given a window to a part of America that I’ve never seen (or intend to see because it’s scary).
The movie wasn’t the all-Jennifer-Lawrence-show I thought it’d be, though her performance as Ree could have carried the film far. The amazing and unsung John Hawkes (The Perfect Storm, Eastbound & Down) backs up Lawrence as her uncle Teardrop (thank you) and my personal favorite Dale Dickey co-starred as hard case Merab (the lady knows how to use a chainsaw, you’ll see). I think the best think this movie has going for it is that it isn’t the story of a mountain girl transforming into Miss America or a story of a prodigal father coming back to his family a new man. It’s about a struggling girl desperately trying to dig herself back up to where she could manage to barely subsist. Plus the music is rad.
This movie would be a great Netflix stream on its own, but if you’d like to quiet any fears of Lawrence playing Katniss Everdeen, I give you Winter’s Bone.