Sunday, 26 September 2010

Winter's Bone - Chillingly Good

Once again it's taken a film to kick my bum back into blogging.  (The advert that was my last post doesn't really count.)  Said film?  Winter's Bone (Directed by Debra Granik; starring Jenifer Lawrence) A very good film indeed. 

A teenage girl searches for her missing father while caring for her mentally ill mother and her young brother and sister.  Dad's due in court and the family house and small holding will be forfeit if he fails to show.  There's your narrative mainspring which is wound up just tight enough to move the film along.  But it's stuff other than the story that do it for me.  This stuff:
  • It is thoroughly human in ambition and scale.  This is a film a bout people.
  • It handles its setting, the bleak back-woods of the Ozark Mountains, in way that breathes mood and atmosphere into the story from start to finish.  Place matters here; it's Hardyesque.
  • It is utterly menacing without being remotely spooky.  Menacing but mundane.
  • It is concerned with both human evil and human good and skilfully renders both facets of our shared condition.
  • It knows that individual human qualities matter, but so do family, community and wider society.  Deprivation and neglect grip people and squeeze them into often ugly moulds but personal virtue can still be potent.
  • Its heroine, around whom the entire film revolves, is utterly engaging and superbly rendered. 
  • It has an unexpected centre-piece scene that has a Shakespearian air of horror.
  • Its child actors are good enough not to spoil the show.
  • It includes what I reckon is the best bit of chain saw action in any film I've seen.
  • It knows full well that when it comes to terror, less is more.

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