From the Editor

Movie Review Archive

Thank you for checking out my movie review archive. I'm in the process of transitioning to something else, so I will no longer post new reviews to this blog. In the meantime, I will keep these reviews archived; these are from the fall of 2008 to April 2011. Please watch this blog for more info and keep in touch (you can still find me on Facebook and Twitter). Here's to more great movies!

Wes Singleton

North Texas Film Critics Association

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Winter's Bone - B+

Rated R for some drug material, language and violent content, 100 minutes

Superbly chilling, well-drawn "Winter's Bone"

If you need a genuinely chilling escape from the summer heat, you'll find it in the independently-made drama "Winter's Bone." Based on the 2006 novel by Daniel Woodrell and set in the backwoods of the Ozark mountains, it's a dark but finely-drawn, well-acted character piece and a powerful drama that's helmed by and starring relative cinematic newcomers.

17 year-old Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) sets out to track down her father, who put their house up for his bail bond and then disappeared. If she fails, Ree and her family, including her mentally-incapable mother and two young siblings, will be turned out into the Ozark woods. Challenging her outlaw kin's code of silence and risking her life, Ree hacks through the lies, evasions and threats offered up by her relatives and begins to piece together the truth.

"Winter's Bone" is a depressing but superbly shaded, adroit drama with a powerful, star-making turn from 19-year old Lawrence, best known for her TV work on the comedy "The Bill Engvall Show." Her strong but subtle turn here is one of the year's best and should bring not only well-deserved accolades but better work as well. "Winter's Bone" rightfully won the Grand Jury Prize in the Dramatic Film category at this year's Sundance Film Festival and is directed and written by Debra Granik in only her second feature-length film.

The low-budget, independently-made, shot on location in Missouri, has some stark, gray visuals that cover the film well and sets the tone for the downbeat film. It also speaks well to the language and the lifestyle of those that live in the area, who tend to protect their own. Lawrence's confident turn highlights the film (she even skins a squirrel, in gory detail) but watch for strong turns from TV actors John Hawkes, as her helpful but scary uncle named Teardrop, and Kevin Breznahan as a lowlife named Little Arthur.

The powerful ending is unforgettable and will stay with you long after you leave the theater. "Winter's Bone" is one of the year's best and deserves to be seen.