Modern-day Ozarks in a Southern gothic tale
by Debra Granik, Winter’s Bone is a
sympathetic look at the human condition in contemporary rural America, a
desperate country in the grip of methamphetamine. Ree’s mother has retreated
into catatonic depression; Ree’s younger siblings depend on her and the
kindness of neighbors. “Never ask for what ought to be offered,” she tells her
brother in a bit of weird old Calvinist wisdom.
offers of help are hard to come by when Ree sets forth on an odyssey through
the chilly gray woods in search of her lost father. With the impending calamity
of eviction hanging over her head, and signs of the covert crank trade all
around, she finds hard faces and threats among the drug-addled and strained
ties of kinship. “Some of our blood is at least the same—ain’t that s’posed to
mean something?” she demands of a cousin, a woman who resembles one of the
witches from Macbeth. The
plain-spoken dialogue sometimes rises to an almost Shakespearean cadence,
endowing rough-hewn speakers with dignity.
leaking from the meth labs have poisoned the land where Ree searches for her
pa, and the menfolk, heavily armed and addicted, have grown suspicious and
mean-spirited. Yet, Winter’s Bone is
ultimately a hopeful story about the resilience of the human spirit and the
feeble light of goodness that can sometimes be discerned in the hardest people.
Opens July 30 at the Oriental Theatre.