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The film that should win the Oscar
It won't, of course, because there are two other heavyweights around, but Winter's Bone is by far the best film I have seen this year, better than The King's Speech. The King's Speech is fine, but it won't huant me. This one will.

If you haven't seen it, go do it. It's set in the Orzaks, shot on location in Missouri, among people who are desperately poor but neither stupid nor depraved, despite their teenage pregnancy, their derelict cars, their constant use and manufacture of meth. It's a movie about a seventeen year old heroine of the "unlucky the country that needs heroes" mold: the only carer in her family and in the end the only provider. Her mother has sunk into depression so far she is catatonic, her father has used the family house and land as collateral for his bail, and has now disappeared.

It's a movie about the heroism that is demanded of people living at the edge of a precipice, when they can't bail out because they have others depending on them.

But just when you have followed Ree around scrubby yards full of derelict furniture and houses full of violence and misery, and are wallowing in your pity for this hopeless community, you get into a house where a birthday party for a martriarch is going on, and a white-haired woman sings "If only I were a little sparrow" with a clarity and poignancy that breaks your heart and reveals to you that this people have culture, and beauty, and heart, even if the lives they lead are so merciless.

There is a lot of love amongst the hardness, you see it in the way Ree looks at her friend's child, in the way the children hug their dogs, in the depth of the family bonds - a love that is both a redemption and a trap. It is love that makes the men cook meth, and makes the women stay, and keeps all of them from turning to whatever help the authorities could give them. It is love that turns the crank a produces another cycle of pain.

It's bleak, and beautiful, and full of a terrible tenderness, and portrays a despised community with a clear-eyed, ruthless compassion. If there is a polar opposite of Deliverance, this is it.

A lot of people found it boring, but I didn't, although I had to stop frequently (I had rented it on iTunes) to try to understand what was going on. (I do wish iTunes movies had subtitled, dammit).

Incidentally, it also has one of the strongest female characters I have ever seen on a screen.

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Oh, I so wanted to see this, and then when it came round I didn't have any free time. I hope I get the chance. I know I'd love it.

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