Thursday, January 28, 2010

Winter's Bone: Film Based on Missourian's Novel Gets Rave Reviews at Sundance

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 4:03 PM

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A film based on Ozarks author Daniel Woodrell's 2006 novel Winter's Bone is garnering all kinds of attention at the ongoing Sundance Film Festival.

Salon.com calls the film -- directed by Debra Granik -- "an absolute knockout" and the "narrative film of the festival so far."

Los Angeles Times reports that the "naturalistic thriller is saturated with small, telling details that collectively create an undeniable authenticity and regional authority."

Winter's Bone tells the tale of a 17-year-old Ree Dolly (played by Jennifer Lawrence) who must save the family farm after her meth-cooking dad puts it up for bond following his arrest.

The incredibly stark and haunting novel follows Ree as she walks the Ozarks hills and hollows searching for her father and trying not to be killed by the gruesome meth-heads she calls family.

The film was shot entirely in Missouri with director Granik and the production crew relying on Ozark locals to help them get a feel for the characters in the book.

Per the L.A. Times:
After several introductions, they ultimately found a family who agreed to let Granik observe their daily existence, watching them hunt squirrels, chop wood, cook potatoes (with a scoop of lard in the skillet, sliced by hand over the stove, peels on), pick banjos at bluegrass gatherings and care for their animals. Granik shot video and took photographs, which helped "augment the skeleton" of the script and inform the overall film, Granik explained.

The family and their neighbors became what Granik refers to as "life models," or "a model that you can ask questions, see different details -- a certain way they wear their coat or a way they walk their dog. Anything about how they perform their daily tasks. Just being able to ask someone 'I know this sounds weird but can I roll a little video as you talk to your horses?'"

Granik, who first started working on "Winter's Bone" in 2006, ultimately shot the film in 2009 entirely on location in Missouri. They cast locals in supporting roles and used them as dialect coaches. The costume department exchanged Carhartt jackets and plaid flannels with residents, to make sure the garments were stained with the dirt, soot and work of the local land.

In 2006, the Riverfront Times profiled author Woodrell for the feature story "Hillbilly Noir".

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