Sometimes you need to watch something that will shake you to your core. Something that doesn’t involve any magic or blatant fiction. Something that is so realistic, you kind of forget that it is indeed fiction you are watching.

“Winter’s Bone” will slowly and gradually hit you hard with an ice cold, bleak and hopeless look that escalates into infinity.

Poster of "Winter's Bone" with Jennifer Lawrence

Chilly and harsh, just like the movie


What is this movie?

“Winter’s Bone” (2010) follows the 17 year-old Ree (who else but Jennifer Lawrence) who lives in a hillbilly-gangster reality where her actions keep spiralling her constantly towards an unthinkable reality.

Ree is trying to find her father (he has been gone for some time) to avoid being kicked out of her home where she lives with her depressed and non-functional mother and adorable but helpless siblings. On her quest to find out where her father has gone, she bumps into people and situations that she really shouldn’t bother with her questions.

“Winter’s Bone” is a title borrowed from an Appalachian saying that goes; “like a dog digging after a winter’s bone”, which is someone on a mission who refuses to give up.

It is based on a book by Daniel Woodrell, which apparently has even more horrible things happen than there was room for in the movie, although the undertones are there. At least I wasn’t surprised when I read what was omitted.

Do people say it’s good?

Given that “Winter’s Bone” was a big winner at Sundance (all indie filmmakers will know) AND it snagged a four Oscar nominations, among them for Best Picture, I guess you can say that at least critics and people who work with film loved it.

Notably, it was the lowest grossing film to be nominated for Best Picture since “The Dresser” in 1983, which basically means that people in genereal didn’t care for it (or at least they didn’t care for the poster).

It has a distinctly “independent” film-look about it where all is miserable and the futures are bleak.

This is true somewhat true, and I will tell you right now that you will need to sit through some scenes which are slow, quiet and not at all instantly compelling.

And with the film being set in a cold, bare, almost tundra-ish sort of countryside where everyone does drugs and all is lost, there really isn’t any cheering up to be had, and you might consider caving in and turning on that new romantic comedy that you haven’t lowered your standards to see just yet.

But please don’t. Hang in there. It will get infinitely better.

Do I think it is good?

I pushed trough the initial worry of watching a low-budget, film festival film, and boy was I rewarded for that.

What the movie builds up to is beyond words and description. You have to experience it to believe it. Just know that when Ree starts looking for her dad properly, it will eventually get so dark that you will question human beings as a species.

I truly hope these people don’t exist in the real world in some shape or form, but I am afraid that they probably do.

“Winter’s Bone” delivers such a chill in your spine and paints a realism that will shock to your core. To put it this way, I would not want to live in this horrific white trash dystopia.

I was 100% frightened by this film.

The Epic Jennifer Lawrence

This movie would be nothing if it weren’t for Jennifer Lawrence. As a 19 year-old at the time, she really pulled her acting talent out of the bag and made the character Ree dignified and relatable. This was to be her first Oscar nomination, and I am sure it won’t be her last (since she has been nominated or won every year since).

Funny thing is that Lawrence had to proper make herself dirty and sickly to get the part, as she was originally deemed “too pretty” and not really in the running. Once she got to be Ree, she had to learn random skills like chopping wood, fighting and skinning squirrels (will always come in handy that).

The quote that resonates in my head after watching, is Ree’s adament life rule:

Don’t ask for what ought to be offered

The social realism

I have mentioned it before, but I will state it again, the realism in this movie is tangible. I don’t know anything about country life in the US, but I am now inclined to believe that everyone deals with drugs and otherwise have next to no money or any future to speak of. That is how convincing it is.

It is the first movie that has made me feel safe for living in an urban area rather than a rural one.

It is worth mentioning that a lot of the extras and even some of the bigger parts in the movie, are from Missouri where they shot the film, and have never acted in anything before. With a good director, this kind of casting can be golden, as it is in this movie.

What mood should you be in?

You need to be in the mood for something that is going to be paced slowly, with no off-screen music to speak of (that I can remember although apparently there is some) and no fancy nothing. Just let it get where it wants to go in the time it needs.

It will be worth it. That is a promise.

And if nothing else, you have just seen the movie that made everyone notice Jennifer Lawrence. How mighty hipster of you 😉

Further Watching

If you are in a self-abusive kind of mood, or you just want to see some more of people who are worse off than you, continue with stark social realism and have a look at “Mysterious Skin” (2004) with a young Joseph Gordon-Lewitt, or take a peak at “Precious” (2009) which also is a little slow, but really gets to your heart.

But perhaps you aren’t suicidal and can’t bear the thought of two movies like this in a row…

Then I suggest another way. The JayLaw Way!

By now, if you weren’t already, you will be smitten with Jennifer Lawrence and want some more. I would recommend Silver Linings Playbook (2012), which actually did get her an Oscar (when she ever so gracefully stumbled in her dress on her way to accept the award), but I am also a sucker for “The Hunger Games” (2012,2013 and 2014) and cannot wait for the third instalment this winter.

If you like what I write, share or disagree in my opinions, please comment or just sign-up and get a notification when my next blog post is released.

Next week I will look at number 5 on the ImdB top 250, “Pulp Fiction”. In the mean time, check out number 4, “The Dark Knight”.

Still of Jennifer Lawrence from "Winter's Bone"

Jennifer Lawrence, only 19 in “Winter’s Bone”, carries this heavy movie on her shoulders pretty much by herself

Who am I?

I’m a freelance writer who likes to watch movies. I watch Netflix a lot and sometimes there is a long way between the really good movies, whether good means entertaining or profound.

To help you avoid watching all the crap I have had to endure, I will give you some hidden gems or best movies of Netflix right here every month.

Want another good Netflix movie? Check out the great animation “Brave”!

Why do I think I can talk about movies?

With an over average interest in movies since watching Star Wars as an 8 year-old, and with some background in the industry, I know at least a little bit about what it takes to get a movie made, and have loads of opinions about what makes them great.

But no matter my merits, it is whether or not you agree with my taste in movies that will make these reviews beneficial to you, whether you follow my advice or not 😉

Where can you find the film?

All movies in this Netflix-series can be found in the Norwegian Netflix Catalogue, which is the one I have access to.

If you can’t find it on your local Netflix? File a complaint, they really should have it 😉

If you like what I write, please give me your favourite movie in the comments or sign-up to read my next blog post 😉