Jennifer Lawrence gives an assured and raw performance as Ree Dolly, a girl taking on her rural Ozark community in director and co-writer Debra Granik’s WINTER’S BONE. It’s an impressive follow-up to her award-winning turn in Oscar Arriaga’s BURNING PLAIN.
When I spoke with the actor and her director on April 30th, 2010, it was inevitable that one of the film’s most shocking scenes, where Lawrence at Ree eviscerates a squirrel in order to feed her family, would be a topic of conversation. Granik, a vegetarian, talked about showing respect for the local culture in its depiction. Lawrence talked about being in character. Character and respect also came up in discussing how non-Ozark natives got the accent right, and in finding the key to a girl who can be so young and yet so driven.
WINTER’S BONE is based on the novel of the same name by Daniel Woodrell. Set in the Ozarks, it’s a stark tale told in an equally stark and spare fashion about Ree Dolly, a 17-year-old with a missing father, a mentally and emotionally absent mother, and two younger siblings who all depend on her for their survival as a family. When Ree discovers that keeping a roof over their head depends on her father showing up for his court date on a charge of cooking meth, she embarks on a dangerous quest that defies tradition to discover where her father is, in the process, coming up against a social code that has nothing to do with the law, and for which there is no recourse. Lawrence’s previous work includes an intense performance in Guillermo Arriaga’s THE BURNING PLAIN for which she won the Marcello Mastraoinni award at the 2008 Venice Film Festival, a regular role on TBS’ THE BILL ENGVALL SHOW, and as THE FRANTIC GIRL on NOT ANOTHER HIGH SCHOOL SHOW. Granik’s previous film was DOWN TO THE BONE. Winter’s Bone won the Grand Jury and Waldo Salt screenwriting awards at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.