Untimely Reviews – Winter’s Bone

parody poster
This is not the real poster, it’s just a parody. The film really is that depressing.

Winter’s Bone” reminds me of when I used to edit the drug enforcement update for state law enforcement. Meth cookers often condemn houses by blowing them up or saturating them with ether fumes. Those were the lucky ones. The unlucky ones ended up as charred corpses or amputees. One tweaker stole a thermos full of ammonia and jumped into a river to evade the police. The thermos exploded and took off his leg. And of course these were all cases where the offenders went to jail. That is where the drug enforcement updated ended and this film begins. This is what happens to the family of the meth cooker after he is arrested.

Winter’s Bone” starts out innocuous enough. Well, it starts out depressing enough. This could be the prequel to a post-Apocalypse movie. Find out what life was like before Viggo Mortensen hit “The Road“. “Winter’s Bone” is sorta’ like the lighter side of “The Road”. What a depressing double feature that would be.

another silly poster
Another parody poster, hitting the nail on the head.

Though we are kept in the dark on business end of things, all of the drama in this film is the result of the meth business. The problem with the meth business model is that cooking meth is illegal and dangerous. The input costs are low, the facilities costs are non existent, and the profits are high. On paper, making meth looks like a great home business! But when a meth cooker is in jail, his or her income stream is eviscerated. Their best bet is to launder their money into a high yielding investment to supplement their lost income while they are in prison. Also, most meth cookers are tweaked up all the time and end up with serious health problems, such as dying. Factoring in disability, long term care, and life insurance premiums, there seems to be no way the average meth cooker could ever make a long term income from meth. Just look at their lawns. Are those the lawns of successful illegal business owners?

The real hook for this movie is its authenticity. The backwoods meth mafia of the Ozarks looks authentic enough – which means ugly in the movie business. John Hawkes is especially authentic looking as the emaciated tweaker Teardrop. Because the film looks so real, I just have to assume everything is real. In the backwoods meth mafia culture, the women spend all day standing by the front door to great visitors. They also deliver beat downs. The men don’t do much of anything, except threatening the women. Everyone says they want to keep their business secret, but even though we never see a phone, they all know each other’s business. Just when you think this depressing fable is a documentary story, there is this one take, where Jennifer Lawrence says to here mother, “look at my face”, and then then the film cuts to Lawrence looking away. That one mistake was actually a refreshing reminder that I was watching a fictional movie and I can go on pretending rural Missouri does not actually exist.

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