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Film: Winter's Bone

A 2010 film directed by Debra Granik, based on the novel by Daniel Woodrell.

Jennifer Lawrence stars as 17-year-old Ree Dolly. With an absent father and a mentally ill mother, Ree is left to raise her two young siblings in a rural, Ozark community. One day, she learns that her father has put up the family home for his jail bond and disappeared. If Ree does not locate him within a few days, the family will be evicted. As Ree begins asking questions about her father's fate, she encounters increasingly violent resistance from local residents, all of whom are wrapped up in the meth trade.

The film was nominated for a number of Academy Awards including Best Picture, despite its modest commercial success and lack of star power - at the time. Jennifer Lawrence was still fairly unknown.


Tropes present in this work

  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: Ree and Little Arthur's attitude towards each other makes more sense if you've read the book and know that Little Arthur drugged and raped her before the events of the plot. The flashback scene where this is shown was Adapted Out but the characters still act in a way that in a way that implies it. It is also never specifically stated in the film that Milton is Sonny's father though dialogue later in the movie alludes to it.
  • American Accents: Most characters speak in an Ozark accent, which is very similar to Appalachian, softened slightly by Midwest influences.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Downplayed. Ree is savagely beaten — she even spits out a tooth — and for part of the film her face is a bloody mess. However, by the end of the film she looks basically the same as she did at the beginning.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: Practically all the people who hinder or physically deter Ree from her search for her father are actually members of her extended family.
  • Big Sister Instinct: One of Ree's main motivations in the film is finding a way to provide for her two younger siblings.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Ree saves the family home and gets a fat chunk of cash in the process. However, her father is dead, she's left to raise her siblings alone, and her uncle will probably get himself killed while taking revenge.
  • Blood Is Squicker in Water: When Ree is cleaning herself up after the beating.
  • The Cast Showoff: One of the songs on the soundtrack, "Bred and Buttered", was written and performed by John Hawkes.
  • Crapsack World: The Ozarks are presented as a really terrible place to live.
  • Determinator: Nothing will stop Ree from saving the family home. Nothing.
  • Disappeared Dad: The main conflict; Ree needs to find out what happened to her father.
  • The Dreaded: Teardrop.
  • Fever Dream Episode: Ree has one after being beaten, reflecting her fears about losing the woods and home.
  • Film Noir: Very much of the Neo-Realist variety.
  • Fluffy the Terrible:
    • "Teardrop". Real name: Mr. Dolly.
    • "Thump," although everyone in the extended family treats it as a Name To Run Away From
  • Flyover Country: The film presents a pretty harrowing worm's eye view of just what is going on in some of those tiny Southern/Midwest towns.
  • Functional Addict: Teardrop.
  • Gender Flip: In the novel, Ree had two younger brothers. In the film version, one of them is a sister instead.
  • The Ghost: Jessup Dolly.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The camera focuses on Ree's crying face as the women chainsaw Jessup's hands off his corpse.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Teardrop is a real bastard in the beginning of the film, but shows stronger family loyalty toward the end, despite also being somewhat Ax-Crazy.
    • Merab. If your standards for a heart of gold are extremely liberal.
  • Kid Detective: Ree is helped and hindered by a number of people as she tries to work out what actually happened to her father, and displays a remarkable level of perceptiveness when deciphering who's telling her the truth and who isn't.
  • Meta Casting:
    • The soldier Ree talks to is a real-life Army recruiter. Their conversation was unscripted, and he responded to her inquiries as if talking to a real recruit.
    • The two children who play Ree's younger siblings actually lived in the house where much of the filming took place. The gender of one of the children was changed from the book (wherein both of Ree's siblings were boys) in order to accommodate the little girl.
  • Mexican Standoff: Teardrop has one with the sheriff by refusing to speak with him. The sheriff tries to press the issue, but ends up backing down.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Thump, the patriarch of the drug-cooking family.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Ree receives one from the women of the Milton family for persisting in trying to speak with Thump after having been warned not to.
  • The Napoleon: Teardrop, who is certainly not large or muscular, seems to inspire a healthy amount of fear.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: Averted. The squirrel which Ree teaches the children to skin certainly didn't come from the supermarket.
  • Noodle Incident: It is implied but never confirmed that that the reason Jessep was killed was because he was cornered by the law and ratted people out because of that.
  • Parental Abandonment: Jessup abandons his family to fend for themselves. Ree's mother's insanity could also be seen as a version of this.
  • The Patriarch: Thump has been described as an "Evil Uncle Jesse".
  • Patriotic Fervor: Hinted at around the edges. Homes display pictures of family members in the service. The local watering hole has a large, patriotic mural. The school ROTC is very popular. Ree herself has been considering joining the Army, and the impending loss of the family homestead adds urgency to the matter.
  • Police Are Useless: The local sheriff is a Corrupt Hick, and commands absolutely no respect from the residents.
  • Promotion to Parent: Dad's gone and Mom's sick. Ree is in charge of taking care of her siblings now.
  • Real Is Brown: The story is set, and was filmed, in rural Missouri in the winter. As such, there's hardly any color to be seen.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The army recruiter is as sympathetic and helpful to Ree as an unconnected adult can be. The bail bondsman is also as helpful as he can be, considering he's just doing his job.
  • Revenge: Ree and Teardrop both repeatedly state that they have no interest in revenge if it turns out that Jessup has been murdered. In reality, Teardrop asks Ree never to reveal Jessup's murderer if she finds out, with the understanding that he would be honor-bound to kill them or die trying. He figures it out anyway.
  • Social Services Does Not Exist: Well, they do, but they're unlikely to venture out into the meth-ravaged and determinedly insular communities of the Ozarks. It never seems to occur to anyone that proving that Ree's father is dead will not only get the bond released, but also means that his wife and children will be able to collect Social Security survivors' benefits. That certainly would make a major difference in their living conditions.
  • Swamps Are Evil: Jessup's family's dumping ground is the swamp. Eventually, it's where Ree finds the dead body of her father.
  • Southern Gothic: The setting is an unfriendly, twisted town with an eerie swamp full of twisted decay nearby.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Very common in Ree's world. When she visits the school, she passes a parenting class for students, and her best friend had to drop out of school and get married when she got pregnant.
  • The Tooth Hurts: Ree spits out a tooth after Merab and her sisters savagely beat her. Treated fairly realistically. She loses blood and has to take painkillers.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: The community in general is one of these in spades, what with nearly everyone in town being in on the meth trade.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: The men won't. So the women beat Ree instead. Amusingly, they are careful to tell this to Teardrop.

Public EnemiesFilm NoirDrive
Wild TargetFilms of the 2010sThe Wolfman (2010)
True GritAcademy AwardThe Artist

alternative title(s): Winters Bone
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