WINTER’S BONE--Directed by Debra Granik/Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Shelley Waggener, Garret Dillahunt/screenplay written by Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini/ from the novel by Daniel Woodrell/1hr40min/R
(B) I just don’t get it. What ever happened to the great romantic comedies like It Happened One Night or drama’s like Casablanca? By the way, what the heck does the title mean? Was I supposed to read the novel before viewing the film? I don’t understand. This doesn’t deserve my effort to review it. The best I can do is give an honorable mention to a seemingly unknown singer, and some backwoods musicians who were in the background. Enough said!
(G) WARNING! Spoiler alert! My next sentence may reveal some facts that you might not want to know, should you decide to see this absolutely stunning, dreadfully depressing film. The “best” thing that happens in this film is that a teenage girl gets to save her family’s home by cutting off her dead father’s hands and delivering them to the Sheriff. Yep, that’s the most uplifting thing in the film, unless you subscribe to the belief that learning to shoot or gut a squirrel at an early age, is an essential survival skill.
Now, I’m a big proponent of judging a film from the “Big Picture” perspective. I know that all parts are important, but I also understand that the “basic story” is the most important factor in the ultimate success or failure of a movie. I also understand that a “happy ending” is not essential to telling a good story, but for goodness sake (besides the fact that I ALSO don’t understand what the title has to do with anything) I just don’t understand what it is that this “story” is trying to say to us. Notice that I say “story” because I want to spread the possibility of blame around, as thinly as possible to be certain that the failure lands, at least partially on the guilty party.
It is also important to note that there are some successes here. The dramatic acting is formidable. Not only did this film earn a nomination for Best Picture, but garnered both a Best Actress and Supporting Actor nod as well. These are well deserved, for honestly, if the portrayals were not top notch, I never would have made it to the finish line on this one.
Let’s take this one aspect of the “story” that I’ve already “leaked,” the fact that a teenage girl must cut off the hands of her father’s corpse with a chainsaw to save her home for her mother and two younger siblings. This big dramatic moment…is completely unnecessary and actually illogical to the storyline or consistent with characterizations that we are being fed throughout this film. In other words, the characters lead us to a conclusion and then they, themselves have to explain “why” they are doing it. Even the characters know there is no reason for us (or the girl) to witness this act! Get it? Even the characters don’t believe it. It doesn’t make sense. Unfortunately, I felt about this film similarly to how I felt about The Hurt Locker when I finished watching it. I kept asking myself, “Why was this movie forced upon me? Why, does the Academy feel the need to nominate so many films? Why doesn’t the Academy understand that ALL PARTS of a movie should be judged when nominating for Best Picture? Don’t people realize that every 5 cent idea that comes along does NOT have to be made into a motion picture?”
Let’s just hope that the same mistake is not made this year as last, and we see a boring, poorly told story with pretty good acting earn the Best Picture Oscar. It wasn’t fair in 2010 and it won’t be fair in 2011.