In this noir drama set deep in Ozark territory, resilient teenager Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) goes on the trail of her missing drug-dealing father when his absence jeopardizes the safety of their family. The deadbeat dad has a critical court date pending, and Ree is determined that he make it — despite the objections of the insular Dolly clan. Director Debra Granik’s unflinching drama won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.
Rating: 8 out of 10
I used to work in Glens Falls, NY, so I wasn’t too surprised by some of the utter redneck, white trash lifestyles so accurately portrayed in this film. However, if you haven’t spent time in the poverty-stricken rural areas of America, this film has some powerful imagery and situations that may surprise some or may remind you of people you’ve met and places you’ve been.
We follow Ree Dolly, a 17 year old taking care of her younger brother and sister, along with her mentally ill mother, through some disturbing scenes of drug dealers and criminals associated with her father. It’s a simple premise — a girl looking for her missing father because if he misses a court date, the family loses their home.
The film moves patiently, wrapped around an outstanding performance from Lawrence. We see the old tires and broken tractors with weeds growing around them, dirty, worn toys lingering in the yard and a tone of speaking heard only in these parts. There is not looking down the nose at these people. It is an honest portrayal of some of the uglier parts of our country we don’t often see or speak of, which is why I found it so engaging. Don’t be surprised if this gets a best picture Oscar nomination.