Being one of the few people on the face of the Earth that has yet to see the Hunger Games (Although I have read it) I am catching up on the love of Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss in the Hunger Games) as an actress.
2010’s ‘Winter’s Bone’ has been on my list of movies to watch for the past few months and this past weekend, it made a fast jump to the top of my list with the help of a friend who also wanted to check it out. It was without a doubt, one of the best decisions of the weekend.
The premise of ‘Winter’s Bone’ is this; Ree lives in the Ozarks in southern Missouri with her semi-catatonic mother and two younger siblings. Her father has been in jail for a while when the movie starts and the local sheriff stops by to inform the family that her father has posted bail by putting the house up as collateral. This would be fine and dandy only he hasn’t shown up around home since his release and he is required to make his court date the following week or the house is gone.
Ree sets out to locate her father and we meet the rest of the family as the film progresses. The film touches well on the fact that this is a back woods location where no one is really well off, and most of the families around share more than a bit of blood between them.
The film follows Ree’s journey to find her father and the interactions she makes with family and friends as well as a few people who couldn’t care less to be seeing her come around. It’s the interactions between Ree and her uncle Teardrop that set this movie apart from most other dramas I have seen in the past few years.
Not only does it star Jennifer Lawrence (Who got the Oscar nomination nod for best lead actress (Lawrence being the second youngest in history to be nominated for the category behind Dakota Fanning)), it also starred John Hawkes, one of the most under-rated actors to grace the silver screen.
As I scrolled through imdb.com when looking up names of the people that took part in Winter’s Bone, I was immediately drawn to check the history of Hawkes as he is one of the actors that you will always recognize in his roles and immediately forget about the second the movie finishes rolling.
I can’t even describe why people don’t think of Hawkes as a lead actor because he is, he is amazingly dedicated to the roles he is given, he graces the screen and the audience with his dedication and power that seems to ooze from the viewing to viewing.
The first time I recall seeing Hawkes was in his role as Cowboy in the 1993 Alex Winter (Bill from Bill & Ted) film Freaked, and he always stuck with me. As he developed and got more roles as an actor, from ‘From Dusk Till Dawn, to various TV spots, to ‘Steel’, to ‘Rush Hour’ and ‘The Perfect Storm’, to his part in the critically acclaimed Steven Spielberg sci-fi mini-series ‘Taken’. Hawkes has paid his dues ten fold to get the lead roles in films yet he never gets them.
I can’t go into why he doesn’t get them, because I have no reasons why he should get them. He is the supporting actor every lead would dream of getting. He devotes every bit of his ability to his role and that shines through as his character of Teardrop in ‘Winter’s Bone’. While Lawrence is unstoppable in her role as Ree, the scenes in which she appears with Teardrop it is as though she has disappeared behind his presence. It’s hard for me to say I’ve seen more emotion portrayed in characters on film aside from the characters of Ree and Teardrop, but it’s the honest truth.
The pain they feel, the audience feels. The struggles, the beatings each takes, the internal struggle for survival and the knowledge of what is right and what needs to be fought for outweighs so much when watching ‘Winter’s Bone’.
This is the first time I’ve seen Jennifer Lawrence in a lead role and I am extremely happy that I viewed ‘Winter’s Bone’ before watching ‘The Hunger Games’. I’ve read that trilogy. I have not read Winter’s Bone. I have an image of what Katniss should be and up till now I didn’t think Lawrence could pull it off, but having seen ‘Winter’s Bone’ I am completely behind the decision to get her as the lead.
There are still times during this film that I was bored, but that happens with a lot of films that I watch anymore. My mind goes a mile a minute and doesn’t relax enough to just enjoy where I’m at. That has a lot to do with whom I’m watching a film with as well though. But with ‘Winter’s Bone’ I wanted to know what was going to happen from each second to the next. I’m happy to have seen it and stand full behind it for anyone who wants to enjoy a drama that embraces every aspect the genre should hold. Screw the stereotypes, this movie shows the emotion as it should be shown.
On a final note, ‘Winter’s Bone’ was directed by Debra Granik, a director who only has 3 films under her directorial belt but has a staggering 22 wins in various film award nominations, most coming from ‘Winter’s Bone’. It just goes to show, that even though it may take a film maker years to be shown the recognition they deserve, the wait is worth it. The faith in the person is worth is. According to imdb, there are no future endeavors in the chutes for Debra Granik, but after seeing ‘Winter’s Bone’, I can honestly say I will be at the next one as soon as I can, just to see how well she can show me characters like she did in ‘Winter’s Bone’.