Movie Review: Winter’s Bone

 

winters-bone

Winter’s Bone to Pick

One thing that instantly stood out about Winter’s Bone was the preconceived notion that every Ozarks town is the same: backwoods. When Missouri comes up in the news or in conversation, many people jump to the same conclusion that the people of Missouri are just that as well: backwoods. While the Missouri Ozarks will always be home, it is one perception I would like to break. Agreeably, there are still backwoods towns in Missouri, but by and large all of the Ozarks is not like this. There are many perceptions in this movie that the producers got wrong. On the other hand, there are some perceptions they got right.

Ree Dolly portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence is a teenager who takes on many of the responsibilities for her family when her father goes missing during his latest meth venture. If one has lived in Missouri, particularly the Southwest region, for very long, you discover the penchant for meth-making. Missouri has become known as the meth capital of the nation due in part to the overabundance of methamphetamines. Winter’s Bone does convey the drug culture that runs rampant through the Ozarks: the continual cycle of drug production, getting caught, going to jail, getting out, and starting all over again.

While Ree walks all over the countryside searching for her father, some details stand out. Forsyth in Taney County was where this was filmed and doubles as the setting for the film. Yes, this area is extremely mountainous and densely populated by forest, the absence of fast food restaurants and Walmart is somewhat alarming. Even when living in a rural area in Missouri, one can usually find one or both venues within a ten-minute drive. Hunting is a popular pastime for Ozarks’ residents, and a good majority still stock their freezers with meat for the winter, but who doesn’t love a good old McDonald’s cheeseburger and fries on occasion? Winter’s Bone gives the idea that unless one hunts for their food, they will starve to death. That has not been a way of life in the Ozarks for several decades.

Although certain regions in the Ozarks can come across as über religious, the town in Winter’s Bone tends to be a little on the extreme side, such as the continual presence of Gospel/Bluegrass music, adding to the backwoods perception. Where is the mention of sport’s teams (Cardinals, Chiefs, etc.) or Bass Pro? Anyone who has resided in this area knows that despite the love of firearms and Jesus, Sports is greatly celebrated in the Ozarks.

Friends and neighbors take care of each other in Winter’s Bone, which is something that is a common practice in the Ozarks. Ree’s neighbor brings by a food box filled with deer meat, potatoes, and other staples that could be used to make a hearty meal. This is a common courtesy that Ozarkians will do when they see a neighbor going through a difficult time.

Car graveyards is something that one will find anywhere throughout the Ozarks. On one of Ree’s outings to find her father, she walks through a field/yard of a guy who knows him, and it is filled with abandoned pickup trucks, cars, and a few school buses. Certainly not a crucial detail, but one that decidedly pegged the lives of many Ozarkians. In another scene, there are piles of old tires accumulating in a yard, which is another common sight in the Ozarks. Not so much hoarding, but certainly an accumulation of junk is a something that can be seen driving down any Ozarks rural road.

The language and phrases used in Winter’s Bone is surprisingly spot on for Ozarks vernacular. My family is not backwoods by any means, but they are definitely country to the core, and that shines through in their language. As an English major, and an avid reader and writer, I have spent years attempting to neutralize my accent so as not to sound like I am from a specific region. However, when spending any length of time in my family’s company, I easily drop back into the country twang and phrases. Language is a powerful aspect of one’s life.

Emotions run high in the Ozarks. Ree’s love and devotion for her family is evident in how she protects them and takes on the role of head-of-the-household when her father is gone. However, anger and retribution are also common emotions in the lives of Ozarkians. Ree gets in a bind when she goes against the advice of her neighbors while searching for her father, or for someone who might know where he has gone. The neighbors jump her and beat her bloody as they prove their point, teaching her a lesson, basically forcing her to pay for the sins of her father. Once again, it is proven that blood is thicker than water when her uncle comes to her rescue, despite his own misgivings with her interference. Life in the Ozarks can be a double-edged sword. Family and neighbors will bend over backward for you, but if you cross them, or if they think you have, they will turn on you in an instant.

Winter’s Bone conveys some aspects of the author’s life, but the events that take place in the film should not be perceived as a common occurrence in every life of an Ozarkian. There is no denying that the film merely highlights a dark facet that can be found in many places throughout the Ozarks, despite the lack or accuracy of certain details. I highly recommend this movie to anyone who calls themselves an Ozarkian, but also to anyone interested in one aspect of Ozarks culture.

Sources: Granik, Debra, Director. Winter’s Bone. Performance by Jennifer Lawrence, Lionsgate, 2010.

Advertisements

Review: Be Frank With Me

Be Frank With MeBe Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I adore Frank! I was not sure how I would feel about this book, but I can honestly say I would read it all over again.

Spoilers ahead:

Frank is a nine-almost-ten year old little red head son of famous recluse writer M.M. (Mimi) Banning. He would rather dress in a morning suit from the 1940s, complete with cuff-links, and top hat or fez. He is a richly intelligent boy, who is obsessed with entertainment facts of the golden age of Hollywood and radio. It did not take but a couple of chapters to realize that Frank must certainly be high-functioning autistic (Asperger’s), based on his speech, intelligence, and single-focused interests. When twenty-four year old Alice is hired by Mimi’s agent to be her personal assistant, she travels from New York to Los Angeles taking up residence with the writer and her son. Frank warms up to her, after a dire warning from Mimi not to touch Frank without his permission, and under no circumstances touch any of his things, or else meltdowns would occur. While Mimi is holed up in her office writing her latest overdue novel, Alice and Frank take on LA in a magnanimous way. The duo soon learn much about each other, their likes and dislikes, and their coping mechanisms. The more the story unfolded, the more I saw my autistic nephew in Frank. There are moments of hilarity, moments of tenderness, and moments of heartbreak. Each moment shaped the until Frank and Alice became such endearing characters that I will cherish having met.

View all my reviews

Review: A Man Called Ove

A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book so much! I was skeptical at first, when it started out reading as a narrative of a grumpy old man. However, it quickly became a humorous, touching story about a man who had lost everything and everyone he had loved in life. Ove soon discovered love can be found in the strangest of places: a bedraggled feral cat, new neighbors, helping those in need in various ways. At every turn, Ove’s desire to die was curtailed by the needs of his new “family” in hilarious ways. I laughed. I cried. I have to read the physical copy of this book because I loved the audiobook so much. I recommend this to everyone, regardless of your genre of choice. Go read it now!

View all my reviews

Review: Stars Over Sunset Boulevard

Stars Over Sunset BoulevardStars Over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner

I selected this book based on my recent reading of “All the Stars in the Heavens” by Adriana Trigiani. Set in the same golden era of Hollywood as Trigiani’s book, Meissner delivers an equally captivating story of two friends who go through the trials of working the secretary pool at a studio during the filming of Gone With The Wind. This is a tale of tried and true friendships that go through the testing of love, financial hardships, war, etc. It shows us how the choices we make have repercussions years after the decision has been made. While there were some slow parts, I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Violet and Audrey’s friendship through the years.

View all my reviews

Review: The Bone Labyrinth

The Bone Labyrinth (Sigma Force, #11)The Bone Labyrinth by James Rollins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m a huge Rollins fan for his ability to take a snippet out of a news story and turn it into masterfully crafted novel. While I’m a fan of the Sigma Force characters, it was mainly Kowalski that earned a place in my heart for fictional characters due to his relationship with Bacco (sp?) the gorilla. Tough as nails Kowalski is brought into a case to become a sign language translator for Bacco, and as man and beast bond, it is a relationship that warms and encourages those who enjoy relationships between humans and animals. I choose to listen to the audiobook version of this since I have been trying to get around to it forever. However, the narrator, while great at enunciating accents and the individuality of the characters throughout the story, he otherwise possessed a rather monotone voice that honestly put me to sleep a few times. I probably won’t read another Rollins book via audiobook for this reason, and the fact that so many details get lost in the listening that would otherwise be the point of focus in the written word. Regardless, I enjoyed The Bone Labyrinth!

View all my reviews

Review: America’s First Daughter

America's First DaughterAmerica’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Jeffersonian era comes to life in this exhaustive fictional narrative told from the point of view of Martha “Patsy” Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter. You will learn firsthand accounts of the tension-filled times when Jefferson was running for his life trying to keep his family safe during the Revolution to the streets and ballrooms of Paris when he became a diplomat, to his lifelong love affair with Sally Hemings. Using actual letters that Jefferson, Patsy, and other family and friends wrote during their lives, Dray constructs a shocking narrative that unfolds from one page to the next. I had no idea how paramount of a figure Jefferson was after the birth of our nation and the role that his daughter played during that time. One of my favorite historical fiction novels I have ever had the pleasure of reading.

View all my reviews

Review: All the Stars in the Heavens

All the Stars in the HeavensAll the Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you are a fan of old Hollywood, the likes of Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford, and the like, you will love this. This is primarily the story of star-crossed lovers Loretta Young and Clark Gable starting in 1934 and detailing their lives through his death. However, this is also a tale of the friendship and undying loyalty of Alda Ducci and Loretta Young, that spans decades. You will laugh, you will tear up. This story brings old Hollywood to life in ways that I have never experienced before. The characters come to life and become dear friends as you read. You definitely won’t regret reading this book.

View all my reviews