First Hit: An extremely thoughtful, well and evenly paced film of the life of a young girl in a crank addicted section of the Ozarks.
Her father gone, her mother either crazy or numb to the core, and two young siblings she has to care for, Ree Dolly (played by Jennifer Lawrence) has to find a way to keep the family together, fed and housed.
This is a dark film focusing on how life can succumb to a darker side when crank is the currency of the day. This section of the Missouri Ozarks is hill country with families scattered about the land living in run down houses with stuff strewn about their yards. Life is hard and many of the men have taken to cooking, dealing and taking crank.
The women are hard as well living by their own code of family blood and the law is seen as the enemy. There are moments that both men and women show levels of compassion which contains their hope. One of the lines that stayed with me was; “you don’t ask for what should be offered.”
A sheriff informs Ree that if her daddy doesn’t show for his court date the bail bond company will take over their home and land and she, her two siblings and her mom will be thrown off their land with nowhere to go. Ree says she’ll find him.
This starts the story of discovering what family lines mean along with the spoken and unspoken code of these hills. At one point Ree realizes that her father is dead, and with her father’s brother Teardrop (played by John Hawkes),they set out to find the body because with a body, the house and land won’t be taken from her and the kids.
One of the best things about this film is the consistency of character with the land, color of the sky and the grayness of the woods. This film sets its tone from the beginning and carries it through to the end.
Debra Granik directed and co-wrote this film with a knowing authenticity. Lawrence was extraordinary in her role as Ree the 17 year old girl holding it all together. Hawkes was powerfully brilliant as Teardrop. The choreography of this film was beautifully laid out as we go from one scene to another, creating an edge of suspense but not beating the audience up with surprises, noise and violence.
Overall: This was a very strong film of people doing what they have to do to survive.