Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The Self-help Group for the Underappreciation of Brilliant Films

Winter's Bone was an instant success. Critics liked it - really like it. It made a lot of money. It featured in many people's 'top ten' lists of last year. It went on to be nominated for lots of big awards. It was the indie hit of last year. Throughout all of this nobody mentioned that it was really boring. I've read lots of reviews and haven't found a single bad word about it. But honestly, I was bored. When the final scene came I thought 'Is this end? I suppose it's been two hours. It looks a bit like the end. But hardly anything has happened yet'. I know that this is meant to be a film of atmosphere over plot. I know it's meant to be realistic and authentic. Scary in a quiet way. I just thought it was a prelude to something that never happened. This girl wanders around a run-down corner of America trying to find her father. She asks all her threatening neighbours about it, then the film ends. As a narrative it's slight, bordering on non-existent. Atmosphere can only get me so far. After a while something needs to happen or my mind wanders. I usually think about crisps or biscuits. Maybe chocolate biscuits. I could get some chocolate biscuits. I walk away to browse biscuits. And when I get back the film is still on.
I feel bad about writing this, because the things I criticise here could appeal to me in something else. I mean, it really is very atmospheric (did I mention the atmosphere?). It's the middle of the winter. Everything is dead or dying and the colour left a long time ago. The landscape is bare. The acting is excellent.  Everybody's as drab as they look. But in the end, I just wasn't interested. I suppose everyone must have a film they don't get. All the critics that rant on about it, all the articles you read, all the people that recommend it. And when you see it it doesn't happen. The weight of expectation or cruel old subjectivity? I don't know, but I won't be watching Winter's Bone again, and I won't be recommending it to anybody. There might be a club for this. Full of people who dislike films that are clearly brilliant. People who are definitely wrong. 'I don't like The Shawshank Redemption' says one. 'I didn't enjoy Lord of the Rings. Not any of them', another whimpers. Then somebody mumbles something about not liking Toy Story, and the rest shun him. Because everyone likes Toy Story. Freak.


  1. I wouldn't say you are wrong. I thought The King's Speech highly over-rated and yet it was raved about. Taste is a funny thing. I personally absolutely loved Winter's Bones. I really liked Jennifer Lawrence's performance, she is a very talented young actresss. What I most liked is that it is an indie production which makes it so different from the mass produced garbage that is churned out by Hollywood each year.
    Each to their own and it is always interesting to read other people's opinions especially when they differ to your own.

  2. You're definitely not alone with The King's Speech. It was fine. I don't think there's anyone else that was bored by Winter's Bone though.

  3. I haven't seen this one, to be honest though I don't really like the sound of it, it's sounds a bit to American for me to "get", if you see what I mean...

    Anyway, great review, I don't think there is a singly film all film buffs can agree on loving. Still, I suppose it makes for more interesting discussion.

    thanks for including me in your blogroll by the way, I appreciate it :)

  4. There should be a word to describe that. The Wrestler is mine! Everyone ranted about how great it was. It was all a bit fat bleh to me.

  5. I have the DVD sitting here, I suppose now I will just have to watch it to see if I agree with you. I like frequently films where nothing happens,but not films intended to be improving, and I'm not sure which this is.

  6. Jack - It might be easier to find something everyone hates. Rotten Tomatoes has few 0% films.

    Drake - Not The Wrestler! Okay, you can have that one.

    ArtSparker - I don't think there's a message to it. At least, I couldn't see one.

  7. Haven't seen Winter's Bone yet, but I'm starting to feel like I mighr find it 'meh' as well. Atmosphere and everything is fine, but something has to happen! I'll reserve judgement though (pssst - I'm afraid I'm one of those who raved about the King's Speech! But I will say it wouldn't be half as good without Firth and Rush, and it definitely shouldn't have won the Oscar!)

  8. One thing I liked about this is it showed 'the other America'. There are no white picket fences and nice houses, let alone fancy cars. It is poor whie trash at it's bleakest. It reminded me very much of last years harrowing Precious.
    It is one thing I love about film is it may not actually be a good movie or memorable, but sometimes it gives a visual snapshot into another contries landscape and lifestyle. Winter's Bone did that for me more than the actual script. The colourless landscape is beautifully filmed and I enjoyed looking at it and marvelling at the fact people exist there. It was thought provoking, and brought home to me what someof us take for granted finacially. I'm not rich, but I'm not as poor as these Missourians!
    I agree totally with Ruth..king's Speech wasn't worthy of the Oscar...totally over rated as a film.