Saturday, February 5, 2011

Chilling to the Winter's Bone

At about the half-way point of watching Winter's Bone, I paused the movie to take a bathroom break. After about an hour into this bleak, depressing world, my image in the bathroom mirror struck me as especially beautiful. I don't say this to sound conceited. I say this to illustrate the contrast between my own image and my own life compared to what I had been watching on the screen. I thought I had seen "ugly" in The Fighter.(the ghastly looking sisters are still haunting me!) But not just physical "ugly". The whole thing. Physical, spiritual, emotional. People whose lives you observe and wonder what reason they could possibly have to want to live. People without joy. People without hope. People barely surviving. Winter's Bone, one of this years Oscar contenders was one of the last movies I had not yet seen. I don't even remember it when it came out in the summer of 2010, so when my film buff daughter asked if I wanted to see it, I said, "sure, may as well see them all." Already available to view on ROD, it was an easy option as I did not feel like venturing out on a cold night. I thought I had gotten away without feeling cold, but this movie was not going to let me. The fact that it is filmed in winter in the Ozarks was an obvious image, but no warm blanket around my shoulders could protect me from the chilling images and story of this young woman's plight. We tend to forget how fortunate we are. As I get older I am more and more grateful and aware of my good fortune, but even so, I still need a slap upside the head from time to time to REALLY remind me. This movie is that slap. Director, Debra Granik's stark portrayal of poverty and depravity and addiction is so real it makes "our" privileged lives seem extreme in the opposite. It is the story of a 17 year old girl trapped in a life she did not ask for. Her mother is mentally ill, her drug-dealing father has run off and left them penniless and she is left to take care of two much younger siblings and their home that is being threatened to be taken over by the bank if her father is not found and brought to trial for his crimes, as he has skipped bail. Ree, brilliantly portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence, sets off to try to find her father, risking her life in a seedy world of back woods meth labs and gun-toting drugged out hillbillies, one of whom is her own uncle. She enters a dangerous world she understands but does not partake in, with the bravado and bravery of a mother who was trying to protect her children, even though the easy path for her would be to dessert them all. My daughter loves a good horror flick. She prides herself on being pretty immune to just about every special effect going - nothing gets to her. She is able to laugh most of it off and is super-critical of movies that do a poor job of all the blood and guts. At the end of this movie, even she, Miss Jaded, had to admit, Winter's Bone in its tragic realism, was truly horrific. Some images and characters stay in your head forever. This movie and this heroine will without even trying. And it's not a pretty picture.

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