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Winter's Bone: A Feminist Perspective
by Crystal O'Gorman

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Here's the movie's poster.

Here's the movie's poster.
When you think you've had a bad day, go walk an Ozark mile in Ree's shoes!

Seventeen year old Ree Dolly, played by award worthy Jennifer Lawrence, had to grow up quick, real quick. According to the story, her father was always away cooking methamphetamines and running from the law and her mother was mentally disabled, supposedly due to her father's misdealing. Therefore, Ree became mother and father to her younger brother and sister and caretaker to her mother. This is no easy feat when you live in the backwoods of the Ozarks. Ree cooked, cleaned, chopped fire wood, hunted for their food, and helped the children with their homework without any income or transportation.

Not only did Ree take on so much but she had to give up a lot too. Ree was really into ROTC but she had to quit school to be a fulltime parent and caretaker. In one scene she shows up at an Army admissions office
Ree is comforting her brother when they find out the house is up for bail.

Ree is comforting her brother when they find out the house is up for bail.
to ask questions about enrolling. Of course, she needs the 40,000 dollar sign on bonus to save the house that is up for collateral for her father's bail, who has ran out on the courts and his family, but the underlying fact is that it is her dream to join the service. After the recruiting soldier finds out about her background, he suggests that she has a bigger calling at home and she should stick it out. Even though she must be broken inside, Ree remains strong and sticks it out for her family. And I do mean "sticks" it out!

Ree has to prove that her father is dead in order to save their house or they will be thrown out into the Ozark woods. Can you imagine? Not only is she a mother, father, and caretaker but now she must play detective against some of the deadliest, drug dealin', clan members and get this, they are family!

To me, Ree defines what it means to be a feminist. She
I cannot imagine being in her shoes in that boat. It's unfathomable!

I cannot imagine being in her shoes in that boat. It's unfathomable!
refuses to become a drug-loaded, drone pulled into the mafia-like clan that is her family. She stands up for her brother and sister and does what it takes to give them a better life. Even though she is hard-nosed, just like her family, and refuses to ask for help from the government or look for a job, I think she is trying to do the best she knows how.

Being a feminist means standing up for what you believe in including yourself and those unable to do so. She gets her ass beat by a group of clan women only to go back for more. She never backs down, and her strong, never-give-up attitude leads those same women to help her in the end. It is obvious that they admired her ability to fight against the odds and come out a better person for herself and her family.

Bleakly, Ree has to fish her father's hands out of the swamp and hold on to them as one of the other women use a chain saw to
Here's a woman on a mission.

Here's a woman on a mission.
cut them off. This is the most heart and gut wrenching scene of the entire dark film. It's quite symbolic too, if you think about it. Her father's hands are supposed to provide for the family but he gave up on them and her hands are tied with the house situation, so she has to take her father's hands into the police to take back control for the family. It's kind of like a grotesque rite passage from girl to women and dependent to provider. It obvious Ree is not afraid to do whatever it takes for her family. And I think given the situation, most women would do the same thing. At least I know a feminist would!

So the next time your boss pisses you off or your running late and you catch every red light just remember this: at least you're not running through the backwoods in the Ozark chasing drug dealers and fishing your father's dead body out of the swamp to save your family from destitution.

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Feb 3, 2011 11:19 AM
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Great film! I applaud you for tackling this one in your column page. Good job!
Feb 3, 2011 2:09 PM
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Thank you. It's really an important film that shouldn't be overlooked.

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The Big Picture
Every other Thursday

Using the Big Pictures as a bigger picture into the world around us, follow me as I explore this window of opportunity into other perspectives on life, love, and happiness. I will peel back the layers of fiction and movie making magic to show you the truth within. Sat Nam.

Other Columns
Other columns by Crystal O'Gorman:

Lessons Learned from Movies

Without Conventions in Waiting for Forever

127 Hours

Kid Movies

Children of Men...'Nuff Said!

All Columns

Crystal O'Gorman
I am a big dreamer from a small town searching for the meaning of life and using movies as a window of opportunity to understand the world around me. I remember working at the local, family-operated movie store as a teenager and being completely fascinated by the way movies bring the rest of the world to your finger tips.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Crystal O'Gorman by clicking here.

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