Winterís Bone was a movie that grabbed you by the back of the neck and pulled you so close you could feel the pine needles tickling your nose.
It brought me back to my childhood, driving with my dad one day to someoneís house way out in north Orange. The yard had lots of junk in it, abandoned snow mobileís, piles of scrap wood, bales of chicken wire and big white geese that hissed at you when you got too close. Even outside it smelled like dusty furniture getting wet and then steam drying over and over. It was the first time I had the thought that some people were less fortunate than I am. Winterís Bone brought me back there. It was like stepping into that yard. It was real life uncensored, for all its brutality and the ache of reaching for something when you know the odds are stacked against you.
In movies, you get used to ďsuspending your disbelief.Ē Youíre willing to look over the fact that real life isnít like that. For instance in, Youí ve Got Mail, Meg Ryanís character has an amazingly huge apartment in New York. We all know she could never afford that, especially owning a bookstore that goes out of business. But itís okay because sheís adorable and Tom Hanks is Tom Hanks and we like the movie. So we can forgive the little lies.
However, in Winterís Bone I recognized that house. I recognized that yard. Iíve seen those people. It has an air of tragic familiarity. It pulls you in because itís a world youíve seen.
Ree, played by Jennifer Lawrence, is someone you see in the grocery store and wonder how she is getting by with her crazy mother and those two kids but something about the way she carries herself makes you think sheís more than capable of taking care of herself. Ree was pushed into a position where she had to be a father and a mother, and only through very subtle ways did she let us see how it was almost more than she could bear: the way she went to her fatherís closet several times, touching his clothes and cowboy boots, almost as if she were trying to channel patriarchal strength.
The movie also brought to my attention that the ďmafiaĒ mentality of Boston or New York City isnít just a big city issue. Reeís extended family felt an awful lot like some kind of West Virginian mafia. The extremely deeply rooted need/demand for respect permeated all the male roles and the penalty for disrespect was very harsh. The hierarchy was very clearly drawn out and the punishment for breaking the family code was clearly something you wanted to avoid at all costs. This aspect of the film gave it a sense of claustrophobia, and by the end of the movie, you realize you havenít had a deep breath in a while.