This is months behind the curve, I know, but we just saw Winter’s Bone at our house. I was truly impressed by this film. I saw everything the critics and fans did in this film, but maybe one more thing: This was a film that treated the rural poor with respect. The characters were real people, not Disney-fied or villified.
I thought I saw that in the film first time around, but listening to the director’s commentary convinced me. The people who did this film in rural Missouri went in to understand the people in Daniel Woodrell’s novel and bring them to life on the screen. The film’s heroine, Ree Dolly, redeems a lot of pain with her struggle to help her family make ends meet on their land.
At our house, we have a nodding acquaintance with rural poverty — not the kind as mean and threatening as depicted in the film, but a somewhat kinder and gentler southwestern Virginia variant of it. The authenticity of Winter’s Bone made it especially chilling, and uplifting, to us.