Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Dale Dickey
Directed by: Debra Granik (“Down to the Bone”)
Written by: Debra Granik (“Down to the Bone”) and Anne Rosellini (debut)

Situated somewhere in the wilderness of the Missouri Ozark Mountains, local girl Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) teaches her younger brother and sister how to cook deer stew and hunt for squirrel. She shows them how to live off the land, how to be thankful for the little they have, and how to survive.

In any other film, the backwoods setting and Midwestern drawl might have some directors and writers taking the easy route and relying on stereotypes to portray their characters. Filmmaker Debra Granik (“Down to the Bone”) has other plans in her film “Winter’s Bone,” winner of the 2010 Sundance Grand Jury Prize. Instead, Granik takes this little known region and brings it to life through a steady and minimal tale of strength and determination. It’s this year’s “Frozen River.”

Fairly unknown actress Lawrence plays Ree, a young girl who spends her days tending to her siblings and mentally-frail mother. When news comes that her meth-addicted father has put their house and land up for his bond and has skipped out on court, Ree is forced to search for him before the authorities can take away the only things keeping the family together.

But even in a small community like theirs, not many people want to get involved in other people’s affairs. Doors may swing open for Ree as she questions her neighbors about her father’s whereabouts, but they close just as quickly.

Beautifully shot with the vast and bleak landscapes of the Ozarks in every frame, “Winter’s Bone” is an authentic and deeply moving experience propelled by the amazing performances of Lawrence and John Hawkes, who plays Ree’s detached uncle. It’s really Lawrence, however, who etches a name for herself in the industry with her heroic role.

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