Noir may be the MSG of genres — a little pinch makes almost any film tastier — but does it work for Ozark gothic drama? Yes. Adapted from Daniel Woodrell’s novel by Debra Granik, Winter’s Bone centers on the woes of the wise-beyond-her-years teenager Ree (Jennifer Lawrence), who’s taking care of two younger siblings and a catatonic momma — her meth-cooking father is MIA.
Utterly destitute, Ree and her brood are already reduced to eating squirrels when the sheriff announces he’s going to seize Ree’s house unless she can find her bail-jumping daddy. That sends her sniffing around the local metherati and stirring up more trouble than she bargained for.
Redolent of Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, and just a hint of Gummo, the film doesn’t always ring true, and the over-earnest dialogue has its share of clunkers. But the deft cast (which includes Deadwood alums Garret Dillahunt and John Hawkes) makes this Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner shine.