100 minutes| U.S.A.| 2010| Colour| D-Cinema

Winning prizes at Sundance isn’t always a guarantee of quality, but this gripping backwoods drama is one of the great American indies of recent years. Set in darkest Missouri, it features the sort of community which once brewed moonshine but these days cooks up methamphetamine. These folks don’t trust anyone, so when 17-year-old Ree (Jennifer Lawrence in a star-making performance) needs to find her missing father, she meets a wall of hostility. Due in court, he’s posted the family’s home and land against a bail bond, so if he doesn’t show they’ll lose everything. This young girl’s desperate fight to extract the truth from a hardened clan where silence is a long-held code of honour builds to nail-chewing intensity, etching an almost primal conflict between justice and iniquity. Lawrence’s powerfully stoic protagonist makes it all believable, but the key here is director Debra Granik’s understanding that true authenticity means never patronising or cheapening your subject matter. Quite
an accomplishment. (Notes by Trevor Johnston).

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