Thursday, March 31, 2011

Winter's Bones

 I am still seriously out of sequence here as I have watched Dances With Wolves and Evil Dead 2 several nights before heading off to the local theatre this evening. My writers block hasn't eased up and I am really finding it hard to squeeze anything out of my poor little brain!

 As you all know the Oscars have come and gone, yet Winter's Bones has only just opened in NZ cinemas. I say this because I didn't realise that Jennifer Lawrence had been nominated for an Oscar for leading actress. I wish I had seen this and Black Swan closer together because as much as I liked Portman's performance ( and I'm not a Portman fan ), I believe Lawrence's performance was the better of the two. For a twenty year old in Bones she has displayed acting talent well beyond her years would suggest she should have.

 She is now cast in another X-men movie and I fervently hope that she doesn't get caught in making that type of movie. She is a very good looking twenty year old and it would be a trap for her if she takes on roles based on her looks alone. Being eye candy is a go no-where career move. After Bones it is very clear this girl has an unbelievable amount of talent that I hope is harnessed and used properly for herself and for the world of cinema. 

 I believe she was over looked for the Oscar because Bone's is an independantly made film and the Oscars don't do independants. Portman was fortunate Black Swan was mainstream, and it would have been interesting what would have happened if Bones had been as well. Oh well, it is done and dusted so it is no point crying over spilt milk as they say. Portman won and Lawrence didn't. But she must still be fully acknowledged  for her outstanding performance.

 I actually went into Bones with a low expectation. Lawrence has been portrayed as a 'pretty girl' and I thought she was going to be like Amanda Seyfried. I was expecting a teen themed movie. Boy I couldn't have been more wrong.

 Winter's Bones is set in Missouri and it is a bleak setting. The people portrayed aren't quite hillbillies and not quite poor white trash. They are on the poverty line and close to being the forgotten element of society. It is an incredibly sad thing to see how they live. Their houses are either log built shacks or patched up remnants of their former selfs. The yards are full of old cars, junk is every where, it is just unbelievable watching. I was really moved by how these people lived. This is an America we don't see very often and can only be described as the 'other 'America. There is no Iraq, 9/11, Wall Street, Hollywood, high society, high rollers here. This is how the other half lives folks.

 What got me was that every house owns a gun of some description. They are brandished almost like toys and yet not in a 'gangsta' type way. They grow up with them and they are an everday part of life. It is eye-opening and shows how far out of main stream society they are. This is the genuine back and beyond baby.

 The people are as hard as the country they live in. Lawerence plays a seventeen year old girl and yet she is more like a twenty five year old woman. There is no girliness, make-up, dresses, soft cuddly toys, etc, or any thing else you would associate with a teenaged girl. The other girls of her age are the same and in fact most are already women. They are married with babies at a very young age. The harshness of their environment sees them having to grow up fast as it is a world of survival of the fittest. Lawrence, with no father to support her two youngest siblings, and an ill mother, survives by shooting squirills to eat.

 Jennifer Lawrence's performance is just incredible. I can't believe how she has completely stripped away any femininity. She is hard, pragmatic, and just doing her best to survive from day to day. A girl of seventeen shouldn't have a life like that, she isn't even interested in boys as she doesn't have the time. She lives among a tight community with everyone virtually related to one another and knowing each others business. Lawrence's father has skipped a court apperance and had signed his house and land over to the bailers. As he hasn't showen then Lawrence will lose all.

 She attempts to find him but she discovers he had been narcing to the cops about the local meth trade. It slowly becomes apparent that he is likely to have been killed to shut him up. For her troubles she gets badly beaten up for her questions. She takes it in her stride but she tells the local bad ass her story and he backs off after assurances from her uncle she'll be quiet. It is an awful situation. She is seventeen living among hardened criminals who'll kill at a moments notice. She lives with this over her young head everyday and one can only admire her resolve, and yet pity her lose of youthful innocence in the process.

 This lose of innocence becomes all too real when when the women who beat her up take her to her father's body in a local swamp. She has to reach down and pull up his arms so that they can be cut off with a chainsaw. Harrowing, absolutely harrowing stuff. She is seventeen for god's sake and has to witness that sort of thing being done to her own father??!!! She takes the severed arms to the police to prove he is dead and hence the bailers cannot take the property.

 It is all unbelievable and I was shocked at the harshness and brutality of their way of life. All the performances are superb, and boy there are some real hard bastards here. Back woods Missouri is beautifully filmed and adds a surreal air. It is hard and cold country with little colour, and the viewer can see how and why the people mirror the countryside as you have to be hard to survive.

 Winter Bone's is a quite brilliant film. Young Jennifer Lawrence is just unbelievable. You MUST NOT miss this as she puts in a performance as good as any you will ever see. She is the standout among some good performances. It is a harrowing film. Bleak,gritty, and uncompromising, the viewer can only admire Lamerence's character the more for her reslove, and yet feel extreme sympathy to see such a young girl doing what she has to do just to survive at the expense of ever being young and having a life of her own. not miss the chance to head down to your local theatre and see this. You won't be disappointed. It is a qualtiy film and I highly, highly recommend it. For me it is the best film of the year so far, but be prepared, it is a harrowing ride. And remember the name of Jennifer Lawrence because I'm sure we'll be hearing alot more of her in the furture. She is an unbelievable young talent and I hope she makes the right career choices because she has the ability to be become one of our generations truely great actresses. Watch her in Winter's Bones and tell me you disagree!

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