Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone

Jennifer Lawrence received her first Best Actress nomination for playing Ree Dolly, a girl who's desperate to save her home in Winter's Bone. It's quite common nowadays that the Academy gives a nomination to very young actresses who usually don't win. However, after this, they either become major stars or they disappear and become one role wonders. I hope that Jennifer Lawrence will not fall into the latter and I think she won't. She really has some potential in her.

Winter's Bone is an excellent movie, which had such a huge effect on me as I was watching it. However, after I finished it, I felt that it lacked something very crucial. For instance, a bit better ending. I mean, the whole film was very realistic but the ending was a bit dumb and unreal, in my opinion. Still, I think that all of the nominations were richly deserved. The screenplay and the story is quite fierce and cruel, the directing is very good. So are the actors, especially the great John Hawkes. I expected something more terrifying from him but his performance was terrific anyhow. Although I don't know if he gets my vote (Bale and Rush are also great), his win would be extremely deserved (not gonna happen). I must also add that Dale Dickey also gives a very fine and effective performance (she was a bit like Melissa Leo in Frozen River).

Watching Jennifer Lawrence in this movie was quite interesting. First of all, I did not really know what to expect from her as I hadn't seen any of her other movies previously. I heard many things about her: everyone praised her, some loved her very, some not that much. I'm not really into these "typical" indie movies and performances. I know that this sounds very biased but that's not the case. I knew (by and large) what I will get from it though I was also sure that it would be something very unique.

Actually, it wasn't that unique. I've seen such realistic acting on screen many times (and much better acted, just see any of the Italian movies from the age of neorealism), so her fierce acting wasn't that surprising or very original. Although I was very impressed by her, I must underline that I did not get something new and uncanny. Still, I think she was quite exceptional and I loved how confident Lawrence was while acting. I never saw obvious acting, she seemed quite experienced for me. Although younger actors usually tend to deliver their lines so solemnly, I never spotted such flaws in the performance of Jennifer Lawrence. She had a very strong presence and kept it throughout the movie.

Ree Dolly seems to be a very determined person, a very responsible and serious adult. However, she's actually a scared and desperate girl who's torn apart by fear and doubts. Ree so staunchly protects her siblings and her family, she's a 100% tough mountain girl who's not afraid of taking action. I was so pleased that Lawrence was able to show both sides of this girl so well: the performance becomes very intense as a result and it was just great to watch her.

Another thing that I loved about this performance is that it's so authentic. She's just like Jessica Lange in Music Box: there, I always so the stubborn Hungarian woman and here I saw the tough Ozark Mountain girl. I'm not sure how this comparision came to my mind, but I think it makes some sense as both performances are memorable because of their realism and strange effect. Neither of them is amazing by any means and yet the impress me so much. Actually, I feel that the two actresses are quite similar in their whole acting.

There was really one bigger problem with this performance and that's the fact that Lawrence is quite overshadowed sometimes by John Hawkes and the directing. Both of those works are so intense and great that you tend to focus on them and not Lawrence's quiet, subtle acting. Still, there are many brilliant scenes that make up for this: the first one is when Ree's talking to her mother and then starts crying, the second one is when she talks about being a real Dolly (Oscar clip!) and the very harrowing and creepy scene in the boat. OMG, Jennifer's acting with her face was so great there and it expressed so many emotions. I was quite blown away.

So, all things considered, this was a very exceptional performance by a young actress, which may not be amazing or mindblowing but it's very intense and memorable work. Lawrence took the character of Ree Dolly and created a person you care about and root for. I really appreciated this achievement because of its fierce nature. Very great job.
I think this is a fine rating for this work.

What do you think?


Louis Morgan said...

She got a little lower than I expected she would, seems Portman will be unstoppable.

joe burns said...

I expected a 4 and a half, but I'm glad she's not too high, lol.

I just HATED her delivery, I found her headstrong attitude annoying and obvious, although I need to rewatch her because she did have some great moments.

Alex in Movieland said...

I just can't think of what they'll choose for an Oscar clip, if they do any. I don't think they'll be going for something with tears... maybe her saying she won't give up her brother.