SYNOPSIS: After her deadbeat father jumps bail and mysteriously disappears, 17-year-old Ree Dolly must find a way to track him down or she'll be left without a home or custody of her two young siblings. To avoid losing everything, Ree must hack through the lies and threats looming everywhere in her rural town to piece together the dangerous truth about her father - without getting herself killed - in this taut, pulse-pounding thriller.
Who would have thought a drama thriller about a girl hunting down her father’s whereabouts would gather so much critical acclaim? Who would have thought a relatively unknown Kentucky born girl would become the centre of attention after starring in an American independent movie? Who would have thought that a seemingly grim movie set in the cold and bleak Ozarks would offer so much hope?
This Sundance hit stars Jennifer Lawrence as a steadfast daughter who hacks through the dangerous mountainous terrain of Ozark to locate her drug dealing father. As if the treacherous surroundings aren’t a peril to the young girl, she has to constantly keep her poor family intact, making sure her siblings are provided with food and shelter, and are aught basic survival skills.
Based on Daniel Woodrell’s novel of the same name, director Debra Granik pens a screenplay with co writer Anne Rosellini which illustrates the unswerving character of the protagonist. The story may not be groundbreaking material, but it is treated with utmost authenticity and genuineness, which results in an affectingly engaging film that keeps its audiences caring for the characters throughout the film’s 100 minute runtime.
After clinching the Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic Film and the Best Screenplay Award at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, the film caught the attention in the international film circuit, nabbing accolades at other festivals like the Berlin Film Festival, Stockholm International Film Festival and the Independent Spirit Awards. The film also garnered four nominations at the Academy Awards. Perhaps, the greatest recognition came in the form of an Oscar Best Actress nomination for 20 year old Lawrence.
The former cheerleader delivers a perfect performance as a daughter who will stop at nothing to maintain her family’s integrity. The journey she takes through the hilly landscapes may be a hazardous one, but the character’s strong will power shines through the forbidding and gloomy cinematography by Michael McDonough, making her one of the most respectable personalities we’ve seen so far.
Lawrence’s superb performance is supported by an equally outstanding cast which includes John Hawkes as her drug addict uncle (his unflinching performance has also garnered several nominations, including one for Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars), Garret Dillahunt as a steadfast sheriff, and William White as an unscrupulous crime boss. The ensemble cast brings this chilling yet promising tale to life. As the film ends with our heroine assuring her younger brother and sister that she will never leave them, you feel the tenderness and hope that can only be felt through a good storyteller’s film.
There is nothing to complain about the visual transfer of the movie. It is presented in its original English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track.
DVD RATING :
Review by John Li