Debra Granik's Winter's Bone is one of those stark family dramas you find yourself thinking about long after the credits are over.
Seventeen-year-old Ree (Louisville native Jennifer Lawrence) takes care of her brother and sister in a desolate part of the Ozarks. Their mother is around, but in body only. Her father, Jessup, has run afoul of the law for drugs (meth is the local coin of the realm) and has put up the family property to make bail, only to disappear.
Now Ree and her siblings might be kicked off their land. The police try to squeeze them for information, but the code of the clannish folks who live in the southwestern Missouri community is to not talk to the law.
Ree dreams of a better life, of joining the Army, but she is torn between her loyalty to her brother and sister and escaping. Others, knowing her predicament, are sympathetic to a point, offering food, but when they suspect she might be talking to the police, she is beaten up.
The film, based on the novel of the same title by Daniel Woodrell, is a chilling coming-of-age portrait. Clannish, tight-knit societies anywhere — and I don't know how accurate this Ozark depiction is — often are suffocating for teens. In Ree's case, she faces a choice of a bleak future or feeling like a traitor. Lawrence gives a poignant performance that makes her an actress to watch.
Winter's Bone retails for $27.98 or $29.99 Blu-ray.