Sunday, July 18, 2010

Winter's Bone (Debra Granik, 2010) -- C

Like 2004's Down to the Bone, Debra Granik's first feature, Winter's Bone fails as a film visually due to her insistence on fictionalized verism and, thus, renders whatever potential emotional resonance the film's adept neo-noir narrative may have held both dull and lifeless. The blame goes on Granik as director, not writer, since the script and source material could easily have been rendered in a much more complex and intricate manner. Take for instance how Ree's (Jennifer Lawrence) search for her missing father, a crank cooker who's put the family house and land up for collateral to make bail (and, if a no-show at his court hearing, the house is taken) is rendered in the most literal way; she evolves from somewhat uncertain teen to fully capable woman through her "journey" and encounter with various roughneck characters, but nothing in Granik's compositions ever compliments nor comments on that progression. Her inability (or apathy) for doing so sucks every ounce of suspense from a story that desperately needs it. Put simply, there's absolutely nothing cinematic about Granik's filmmaking; it's yet another Sundance snoozer (this won the Grand Jury Prize, no less) about "small" people, rendered with very little imagination.

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