"Deliverance" redux


I finally got around to seeing Debra Granik's critically acclaimed (95% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes; 90 on Metacritic ) "Winter's Bone," an adaptation of Daniel Woodrell's novel,  and I had a couple of reactions.

The first was: how nice that another woman joins the ranks of this year's touted independent directors along with Lisa Cholodenko and Nicole Holofcener. My second thought, however,  was: what a phony pile of condescending stereotypes and clichés.

It's the story of  Ree,

a backwoods teenaged girl (Jennifer Lawrence, putting in a fine performance, as does John Hawkes, despite the material),


who needs to find her bail-skipping, meth-cooking, no-account Pa before the authorities take over their meager property (actually, what with their hundred acres of timber, she could sell it off and come off rather nicely) to cover the forfeited bond.

Except for the girl, just about everyone in the movie over the age of ten is a loathsome, inbred, ciminally inclined lout. The only person with all his teeth and all his marbles is the Army recruiting sergeant, who wisely advises the girl not to sign up for Afghanistan but stay home and take care of her feral siblings and her catatonic mother. And find a scriptwriter with a bit more empathy and insight.

If she rejected his advice and went anyway, she'd probably end up like the PTSD vet in Ryan Piers Williams's "The Dry Land,"


which I'm at the moment reviewing. He returns from Iraq to his backwoods Texas home where his psychological problems are exacerbated by the fact that everybody else is as fucked up as he is. In short, they are all variations on the hillbilly clichés in "Winter's Bone."

It seems to me that the Redneck Melodrama has become a staple of indie filmmaking, going back at least to 2008's "Frozen River" (80 on Metacritic; 87% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes). Other recent films that fall into the genre are "Crazy Heart,"  "That Evening Sun," "The Killer Inside Me," Robert Duvall in "Get Low..."


No wonder rural, lower class people hate Hollywood limousine liberals. At least on the screen, it seems a lot of these would be do-gooders treat poor, down-and-out white people with varying degrees of patronization or contempt.

Oh, for the good old days of "The Beverly Hillbillies!"


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