'Winter's Bone' by Debra Granik
‘Winter’s Bone’, by Debra Granik, tells the story of Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) as she attempts to track down her father before her family home is forfeited for his bail bond. Set in the harsh, grim Ozark mountains, she is met by a wall of silence from her father’s family and associates when she looks for answers about him. Determined to protect her younger siblings and save their home, she puts herself in grave danger to uncover the truth about her father.
General Vision and Viewpoint
This is a dark, bleak text. Ree’s family are isolated and poverty stricken, she fears that she will lose her younger siblings and her ill mother is not capable of helping or supporting her.
When she turns to relatives for help she is met with silence and anger.
However, Ree herself emerges as a resolute, determined heroine, a character to admire. Her devotion to her siblings and her conviction in searching for her father reveals the strength of the human spirit. In Ree there is a celebration of humanity, our fortitude and resilience.
Cultural Context/Social Setting
This is a remote, desolate, poor place. Ree and her family are struggling to survive, hunting squirrels to stave off hunger.
It is also a violent world, where force and aggression are used to solve problems. Her father and his family are heavily involved in drugs, he is known to cook methamphetamine.
This world is cold and unfeeling, nobody helps Ree find her father, in fact she is met with many obstacles as she asks questions others would like to remain unanswered.
From a teaching perspective, the plot focuses on a single exciting storyline which all of the action relates to, making it easy to understand and follow. Pacing is quite slow as a picture of Ree’s life and difficult situation slowly emerges.
This is a very visual text. Many scenes show characters’ predicaments and situations while dialogue is sparse.
The setting is beautifully shot, capturing the desolation and isolation of this place.
Ree emerges as a determined heroine, committed to her family despite the many obstacles she faces.
Theme/Issue - Relationships
Ree’s bonds with her extended family are fraught with problems and tensions. She desperately seeks her father, while they would rather forget about him. She is met with opposition when she seeks help, these relationships are fraught with difficulty.
Within her family, Ree is extremely devoted to her mother, brother and sister. They are her motivation for everything that she does. Her concern for and love of her family is a very positive aspect of relationships in the film.
Hero, Heroine, Villain
Ree is a brave and daring lead character. In order to save her family she takes on the difficult task of tracking her father down. She shows determination and strength when she takes on her extended family, making her a likeable heroine, worthy of admiration.