Winter's Bone: Raw & Compelling
I rented Debra Granik's film, Winter's Bone, last night. Holy low-budget-indie-phenom Batman! I liked everything about the film, but what stuck out most to me (naturally) was the actors.
The film was shot in Missouri in winter using mostly local Missouri actors. The gritty landscapes of the film were eclipsed only by the grittier faces of the Missouri actors in the film who live in this inhospitable region. As Granik says in her commentary on the film, the faces and eyes of these actors say more than any words they speak. Their eyes cut right through you and their faces are ancient maps of survival in the harsh reality of the Ozarks meth trade.
Granik's use of local actors was not just a bid to save money on production. This story really could not have been told by actors outside the region unfamiliar with its idiosyncrasies and the desperate nature of the characters in this story. Admittedly, not all the actors in the film were Missouri natives, but the vast majority were. At least one of the supporting actors had no prior acting experience, but I challenge you to pick out which performance it was (without looking it up or listening to the commentary).
Jennifer Lawrence deserves all the press and praise she's received for her leading role in the film - she was incredible! But there were unforgettable supporting performances from John Hawkes (as Teardrop - left) and Dale Dickey (as Merab - below) that brought the whole story to vivid, disturbing life in ways Lawrence's performance alone could not have.
I just can't say enough good things about this film. As an up and coming actor, I don't yet have a shot at the big-budget blockbusters penned by scribes like Aaron Sorkin and directed by heavyweights like Michael Mann or James Cameron. It's movies like Winter's Bone - so solid and profound in their own right that Hollywood and the world must take notice - that I aspire to be apart of.
Have you seen it? What did you think? What did you like/dislike about the film? What other compelling indie films have you seen?
(photo courtesy of Sebastian Mlynarski)
-- Gabriel Voss