Sunday, July 13, 2014

Harsh realm

Oh before I go - which in this case is short for "go the whole weekend without blogging" - I did see another movie on Friday night.  This was Winter's Bone, directed by Debra Granik.  I don't hesitate to recommend it.

There's been a disconnect in American movies in terms of class for some time.  America has been wavering between recession and weak recovery for about six years.  Our social safety net has been getting shredded for over thirty.  That's led to a lot of people in desperate straits, and a lot more at least in the doldrums.

Movies and TV, in general, have wanted no part of this.  This goes for both large studio films and the more high profile indie projects.  Celebrated pictures like Ruby Sparks, Young Adult and Her may have their virtues, but they won't visit you where you live.  They limn a kind of depressed affluenza that may reflect the makers' lives, but doesn't really resonate outside that circle.

Winter's Bone's grubbiness is a relief in that context.  And it is grubby.  Characters look unwashed, and brace themselves against the Missouri winter by seemingly wearing all their clothes at once.  Jennifer Lawrence, who plays heroine Ree Dolly, might never have become a movie star if her subsequent Academy Award nomination hadn't given her an excuse to be seen in public with her nair done and a nice dress. 

Beyond that there's the subject of living in a tiny house and being threatened with losing that house over a bail bond that would, to some, be trivial.  It's a grim situation, but one many can identify with.  It also has the virtue of raising stakes.


susan said...

We did see this movie a few months ago. Jennifer Lawrence was amazing as Ree, stoic and defiant against the inherent violence and paranoia of that Ozark wilderness. The bleak, washed out winter tones created a truly striking mood of survival at a very primal level. Even though the mountain music softened some of the harsh effects I have a feeling it appeared completely foreign and shocking to most people who watched it. I'm sure it did them good.

You're right that there's been a major disconnect in American films between what's actually going on and the types of escapism they usually portray.

Ben said...

A lot of the music was beautiful. And that's important, I think. It's a reminder that while such and such a class in so and so region is pushed to the breaking point - and beyond it - they're not empty vessels otherwise. There's a sould there.