I had high expectations for Winter’s Bone due to some very good reviews and recommendations that I’d read, however I’m slightly disappointed. Jennifer Lawrence’s performance was brilliant, she’s an incredible actress and I’m sure she will be getting involved with a lot of upcoming films, but the film lacked substance.
The story is simple, a seventeen year old girl struggling to raise her two young siblings and look after her sick mother is left threatened with losing her home and everything she owns when her father signs the property over. He’s gone missing and is wanted in court, if he doesn’t show up they will lose their home. We never meet the missing father, and it doesn’t seem like the children care about him at all, his absence goes almost unnoticed, so it’s difficult to feel empathy for them. There’s just something lacking.
It’s beautifully shot and the locations are incredible; they live in this little community on farmland, completely away from it all in the middle of nowhere. The houses are like junkyards, with animals everywhere and broken vehicles and debris. It’s like a whole other little world within a world, and it’s really bleak and cold which creates a great atmosphere. The feel is very similar to Another Earth (starring Brit Marling) but it doesn’t quite get under your skin in the same way.
I didn’t invest at all in the characters, although Jennifer Lawrence plays the part well, we know nothing endearing about Ree.There’s nothing that makes her struggle or the threat of losing her home seem tragic and I found I didn’t care whatever happened. She’s not developed as a character, I didn’t find I even felt sorry for her having to look after her two young siblings singlehandedly. There’s something missing in the development of the characters and it makes it hard to empathise with them.
The story seems random and thrown together, it’s too weak to carry itself so the hunt for her father feels dragged out. The threat of losing their home isn’t imminent even though she’s told she only has about a week to find her father, or at least prove he’s dead, so we soon forget that there’s any rush for her to solve the mystery. Without the imminent threat the pace is really slow. Although the slow pace adds to the bleakness it makes it boring and it feels like it drags on.
The great performance from Lawrence isn’t enough to carry the film, the story lacks substance and the pace is far too slow. I wanted to love this film, and I did like the cold, bleak atmosphere that was formed, however I found it boring and completely forgettable.