MOVIE REVIEW- <i>Winter's</i> wonder: Sundance winner finds hope amid despair


The movie heroes who affect me most are not extroverted. They don't strut, speechify and lead armies. They have no superpowers. They are ordinary people who are faced with a need and rise to the occasion. Ree Dolly is such a hero.

She is a girl of 17 who acts as the homemaker for her younger brother and sister. This is in the backlands of the Ozarks. Her mother sits useless all day, mentally absent. Her father, who was jailed for cooking meth, is missing. She tries to raise the kids and feed them, scraping along on welfare and the kindness of neighbors. The children, like all children who are not beaten, are cheerful and energetic and love to play. They have not learned they are disadvantaged.

This world is established with bleak economy in the opening scenes of Debra Granik's Winter's Bone, which was a double prize winner at Sundance 2010. Unmistakably filmed on location, this is a society that has been left behind. It looks like Walker Evans' photographs of the rural Depression, brought forward to today. The unanswered question is how Ree Dolly grew up in this world and became strong, self-reliant and proud. She didn't learn it from her parents... [full review]