Monday 21 May 2012

Devouring Films: Winter's Bone

Most of the time when I review things, it's because I have something interesting to say or criticise about them (well, at least I think I do, you might disagree!), but sometimes, I write about them just so I don't feel like I've wasted my time watching or reading (although I basically just review every book I finish) them. Winter's Bone, I'm afraid to say, took up a good hour and a half of my life, and, well, I should at least be able to get a blog post out of it!

It's not that it was bad exactly. It was, shall we say, very very dreary and kind of sucked the life out of me, but in the kind of way that you know that's exactly what it was trying to do, and so you can't really feel cross about it for doing so. Part of my lack of enthusiasm with it was because LoveFilm sent it to me when I was expecting Norwegian Wood (cause that's going to be way less dreary! HA!) and because I'm trying not to waste my LoveFilm credits (too boring to go into detail) I basically had to watch it on the day I got it and send it straight back. So. Part of this was all my fault.

But. Not all of it. And I think what I got with Winter's Bone was the flip side of the indie movie coin, i.e. the indie movie where nothing much happens, and the stuff that does happen, you don't really care about. And I wanted to care! Really! I mean, Jennifer Lawrence is the star of this movie and her performance is GREAT (deserving of the Best Actress Oscar nomination she got for it) and really there's no end to how much I love her. And yet... I still didn't really care about her, and I don't know why! I will say this for Winter's Bone though- I kind of saw it as the best and most extended audition EVER for Katniss in The Hunger Games. Consider this: Ree, Lawrence's character, looks after her younger sister (and brother) because her mum's totally depressed and her dad's missing and maybe dead. So, she has to go on a quest to find out what's happened to her dad which is potentially really dangerous and could even lead to her death. PLUS she totally hunts in the woods outside her house so that the family have food to eat. Clearly she was perfect to be Katniss (and she really was, actually.)

So. As I've been writing this, I've come up with 2 theories as to why Winter's Bone didn't press any of my buttons, other than the couple I've already talked about. Here they are, and be warned, they're kind of stupid...

1. It's meant to be all suspense-y: I'm not so good with things that are meant to be suspenseful anymore, on account of my having a really short attention span, because of the internet and all. I've seen both No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood (mainly just to be able to tell them apart, because for the longest time I just chose to believe they were the same film) and both of those are meant to be all suspenseful and stuff. Which, sadly, I totally didn't get and just decided they were pretty boring and that I was done with them. I fear that the same might be true of Winter's Bone, because I didn't feel held in suspense at all.

2. It's not Breaking Bad- Obviously. I refer not only to the fact that I was watching Breaking Bad A LOT when I watched Winter's Bone, and would have much rather have spent the hour and a half watching it instead, but also, well. OK. So, from what I understood of Winter's Bone, it was about people making meth in rural Missouri (which I just looked up on Wikipedia, and is totally not where I thought it was... I'm pretty sure I was thinking of Minnesota, so, whatever). And because I've come to expect the highest quality from things that are about meth production, and because Breaking Bad has become one of my favourite ever things, I guess this was... disappointing. There is literally no meth cooking in this film, I just want you to know that.

Shorthand of those reasons: there are clearly many things wrong with my brain. But still- I wasn't impressed with Winter's Bone, and while I don't feel strongly enough about it to hate it, I can't exactly recommend it either. Just... watch it if you must, for a prolonged audition for The Hunger Games (I should really stop saying that, because I'm sure that's not why Lawrence did it!) but don't expect it to blow your mind.


  1. I sort of wanted to see this (because Jennifer Lawrence) but I probably was never going to (because lazy). So after your post that "probably" has shifted closer towards the "definitely" end of the spectrum. Especially with the comparison to There Will Be Blood which I saw in the theaters and thought "that was very good and I will never watch it again because I don't have that sort of attention span"

    1. DUDE I so thought that too! I have it on DVD because I'm too lazy to go and see a film when it's actually at the cinema, and I'm like 'do I really want to keep it? Because, Daniel Day Lewis! But also, I nearly fell asleep.' It's a dilemma and a half, I have to say.

      So yeah. Winter's Bone. Let's just say I'm glad I didn't buy it cause now I don't have a dilemma, which I would have because, Jennifer Lawrence!

  2. Oh I'm kind of sad to read this, because Daniel Woodrell's Winter's Bone is one of my favorite books. His writing was just so perfect and I loved the character of Ree Dolly and the complexity of her relationships with her family and her best friend.

    I saw the film a few years after I'd read the book and I think my love for the book predisposed me to like the film as well. everal people I know didn't like it, or if they did say something good about it, it was basically what you said - that you can see from her Winter's Bone performance why Jennifer Lawrence was a good cast as Katniss.

    I want to say give the book a try because I love it, but I'm not sure you would love it now that you've seen the film.

    1. I didn't realise this was a book, and actually I'm quite interested to read it, because I get the sense (now) that there are maybe lots of thoughts that Ree's having that can't really be expressed *that* well on film, and so it kind of misses out a lot? (I could be wrong about this lol) Because that's how I felt about the film of The Hours, so i didn't really love it, as opposed to the book which I LOVE. So, yeah, if I see the book anywhere I'll probably give it a try, thanks for informing me of its presence!

    2. Oh yay, I'm glad you would be interested in the book after all. It's a very slim book. In case you're interested, I wrote a review of it after my second time reading it:

  3. You probably won't be surprised to hear that I loved this film since I loved Melancholia too. :) I find it so funny how different our reactions to those two have been! They both felt completely suspenseful and engrossing to me. Maybe I just happen to have that sort of attention span? :D