at last, winter’s bone

In honor of my Dad’s 60th birthday (sorry Dad, because no one would ever have guessed…), my parents are currently taking a couple of weeks to gallivant about Europe, and part of that has involved, since Saturday evening, being here in Barcelona.  Meeting up with them for a while each day (when I’m not in class or out shooting or crafting these insightful blog posts) has been a real treat, especially since I wouldn’t have seen them at all between Christmas and summer had they not popped over to The Continent.  Having them here has also been a great way to test my knowledge of Gaudi (I gave them an impromptu architectural tour around midnight on Saturday) and to do some cool things I probably would take the time to do (or spring for…) otherwise.

My parents await the beginning of Winter's Bone in the lobby of Cinema Melies, which is lined with old posters and black-and-white photos of great directors of the 20th century.

Tonight, after an EPIC introduction to rephotography (which will be getting several of its own blogposts in the near near future), I convinced them to take me to one of the 4 euro Monday night showings of VO films at Cinema Melies, a little 2-screen gem of a theatre that focuses on foreign and independent features in the original languages, a rather rare occurrence in a country that dubs the vast majority of its imported cinema.  Lucky for me, the 22:00 screening tonight wasDebra Granik’s Winter’s Bone, which I became interested in seeing after reading this review in my birthday issue of The New Yorker last summer, and which I knew I MUST see after reading my friend Andreas’ justification for why it was his top film of 2010.  Andreas chose well – and I only wish I hadn’t waited so long to see it myself.

Winter’s Bone is gripping, quite literally – when I finally unclasped my arms from my body halfway through the credits, I realized I had not relaxed my muscles for pretty much the last half of the film.  There is a bleakness and sense of constant threat that drives it along in the powerful wake of Jennifer Lawrence’s brilliant turn as the determined and tough-as-nails heroine, Ree Dolly.  Coming out of the theatre, I couldn’t help thinking of Animal Kingdom, but for all the harrowingness that both films deal in, Winter’s Bone, and Ree herself, string themselves along with a thread of humanity (dare I say hope?) that makes the film and its heroine unforgettable.

Ree and her uncle pause in a graveyard, one of many scenes that build to make this film almost unbearably compelling.

Cinema is inescapably constructed, but this is one of those movies that makes me forget about the frame and simply believe in the truth of the character, the truth of the narrative.  Even if the images on the screen on not indexical to actual events, we bring to them as viewers an interpretation of humanness that has very real indeces in the world outside the darkness of the cinema.

Basically, if you haven’t seen Winter’s Bone, I insist that you do.  And a word about subtitles – if possible, see it in Spain, or some other foreign country where you speak (or at least read) the language.  I found the translations actually illuminated and enhanced my experience of the film, as did thinking afterward about how residents of Barcelona might interpret a film about the harshness of the Missouri Ozarks differently than someone like myself.  But basically.  See Winter’s Bone.  And Animal Kingdom while you’re at it…just maybe not in one sitting.

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One response to “at last, winter’s bone

  1. I’m glad my endorsement carried you over the edge! “Unbearably compelling” is a great description of how the movie feels, and the experience of watching it in Barcelona sounds really cool.

    The only movies I can remember watching in theaters abroad (Norway) were less culturally specific, more broad-market ones like Star Wars Episode II and Harry Potter 3, and it’s weird to imagine looking at something like Winter’s Bone from the perspective of another country and language. Interesting account!

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