A penny saved is ridiculous.

A penny saved is ridiculous.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Grey skies

Concluding my report on a couple of Best Picture nominated films recently viewed on DVD...

Alternately dangerous, dreary, and tense, Winter's Bone concerns a teenage girl (Jennifer Lawrence) trying to save the few worldly possessions enjoyed by her mother and siblings. Set in the Ozark mountains of Missouri, 17 year old Ree has to find her missing-in-action father and make sure he shows up for a court date; otherwise the bail bonds company will take the modest family house Ree's father put up as his bail collateral.

Ree's search for her father puts her in contact with various dangerous types, most outright criminals and most, unfortunately, related to Ree. And everything is set against a social backdrop maybe one or two small steps above outright poverty.

Despite the grim story and the grim setting, there are one or two rays of hope, a couple of sympathetic characters, and the small chance that things might just work out. I won't say any more, other than the movie isn't as relentlessly grim as the ads and trailers make it look. But it is mostly grim. Oh, I should also report that the story is well told, sensitively acted, and in its own understated way, elegantly produced. I enjoyed it and can see why it made the cut as one of this year's ten Best Picture nominees.

Winter's Bone looks and sounds great on standard DVD and there are a variety of interesting extra features, including about 45 minutes of behind-the-scenes material that really makes you want to hand it to director Debra Granik. Seeing what little she had to work with (small budget, people's actual houses and yards used as sets, the bulk of the actors picked up via a casting call held in a school gym, etc.), it's amazing that Winter's Bone turned out as well as it did.

The accompanying photograph shows Ms. Lawrence looking quite a bit more star-like than she does in the movie. The movie poster for Winter's Bone accompanies my January 25 post, entitled "Oscar Noms".

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