Hands up who knows what the Ozark Mountains look like? Well, you won’t soon forget after watching this bleak thriller. Winter’s Bone (2010) is the hot tip for awards success this year, and it’s not hard to see why: you haven’t seen a landscape so unwelcoming since No Country for Old Men (2007) or The Road (2009). Oh yes, Debra Granik’s woodlands are bleak. Bleak, bleak, bleak.
Ree (Jennifer Lawrence) is a 17 year old living a hard-boiled life. Her crystal meth-cooking dad has disappeared and if he doesn’t make his trial, Ree gets kicked off the family farm. Along with her younger brother and sister. And their dazed sick mum, who can’t lift a finger to make ends meet.
Granik and Anne Rosellini’s screenplay is a simple affair, allowing Jennifer Lawrence’s grim determination to keep you hooked. And it works – she does downbeat country girl without ever bordering on redneck cliché. The rest of the cast are the shadows that surround her, John Hawkes’ scraggy dog a particularly potent blend of silence and hidden brutality.