17-year-old Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) is told that unless her meth-cooking dad shows up for a court date, she and her family will lose their house. Debra Granik followed up her debut feature Down to the Bone (2005) with another story about the effects of drug addiction. Along with cinematographer Michael McDonough, she captures the Ozarks country at its starkest… and poorest. This is a community with few choices and its people do whatever it takes to just get by. The misery is counterbalanced by Ree’s love for her siblings and an increasingly nuanced relationship with her uncle. A compelling and moving film, anchored by Lawrence’s strong breakthrough performance.
2010-U.S. 100 min. Color. Produced by Alix Madigan, Anne Rosellini. Directed by Debra Granik. Screenplay: Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini. Novel: Daniel Woodrell. Cinematography: Michael McDonough. Cast: Jennifer Lawrence (Ree Dolly), John Hawkes (Teardrop), Kevin Breznahan (Little Arthur), Dale Dickey, Garret Dillahunt, Sheryl Lee.
Last word: “There were a good amount of first-time actors in the film, and people from, I would say, civilian life that we cast. And some of the supporting roles were cast locally. The main six were all cast from outside. But what was so incredibly wonderful about this – and this was not planned – almost all of them had a Southern background. Dale Dickey, who plays Merab, is from Tennessee. Tate Taylor, who played the bondsman, is from Alabama. This is like raised up in Alabama, raised up in Tennessee, not just like, ‘I was born in Tennessee and then we moved.’ Gail [Lauren Sweetser], she was a first-time actress, but she’s from Fayetteville, Arkansas. And Jennifer’s from Kentucky. That really helped us, as outsiders, to have a cast that had references in their own lives to relatives they had.” (Granik, A.V. Club)