Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Winter's Bone

the Book
Winter's Bone
Written by Daniel Woodrell in 2006
Rating: ★★★★Couldn't put it down!

What it's about:  

Tucked away in the Ozarks of Missouri, sixteen-year old Ree Dolly is left to care for her two younger brothers and mentally ill mother after her convict father abandons them.  As the cold winter draws in, Ree carries the weight of providing food and warmth for her family.  She is further burdened by news from the deputy sheriff - her father posted their house and land for bond and if he fails to appear in court, they will loose everything.  Knowing her father's unreliable tendency, Ree goes on a search for him among her criminal kin and is faced with merciless silence by some and a brutal reception by others. Although no one will talk, she refuses to quit her search and confronts the monsters in the boondocks with relentless bravery and a tenacity that only a Dolly could muster.  

Why we loved it:

This novel is short, sweet, and a quick read.  We love Daniel Woodrell's style; he refuses to write a dull sentence, has wonderful dialogue, and paints a beautiful picture of the Ozark surroundings.  His description of the winter season and climate is enough to give you a chill even in the middle of summer.  His characters are realistic and easy to relate to, even though they come from a unique, unfamiliar culture. 
Winter's Bone (2010) (R)
Directed by Debra Granik
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence
Rating: ★★★☆☆ So-so 

Differences between the movie and book: 

In the movie, Ree's younger siblings consisted of a brother and sister instead of two younger brothers.  This change was likely added to give the impression of a more delicate and sensitive sibling that was characteristic of Harold (the youngest) in the novel.  

Ree was not as tough toward her siblings nor the police officer, in the movie.  At first, she is almost passive compared to the Ree Dolly that Daniel Woodrell wrote, but as the movie progresses, she becomes fiercer.

In the book, it is Ree's dream to join the Army so she can travel and get away from her family.  In the movie, they imply that she only wants to join for money to save their land.  They added a monotonous scene where Ree speaks with a military recruiter.  In this particular scene, the acting is unnatural as if they were reading directly from a script. 

Why we weren't impressed: 

We liked how well the characters blended, they appeared to genuinely belong in the Ozarks.  The actors were very convincing in appearance, speech, and dress.  The acting was natural for the most part and the story we loved was preserved. 

However, the movie lacked any convincing sign of cold weather and that was disappointing.  There was no snow or ice on the ground, you could not see the clouds of people's breath, and besides the actors being bundled up next to leafless trees, there wasn't much to indicate that it was winter.  In the novel, Daniel Woodrell embellishes the snowy scenery with such poetic detail, that the least they could have done was put a little more effort into the appearance of winter into the movie.  

Another easily fixable drawback was the amateur appearance of Ree's make-up after she is beaten.  She doesn't look nearly as hurt as she should. 

We liked the movie because we like the story, however there were some avoidable downfalls of the production.  

Overall we suggest you read the book, but skip out on the movie. 

Up Next . . . Chocolat

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