by Carmen Ferreiro

“Way down in Missouri” the song that opens the trailer ( for Winter’s Bones tells us, 17-year old Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) lives with her two younger siblings and her mentally ill mother.

Life is tough for her. Yet Ree struggles to keep her family fed, her siblings in school and proudly refuses to ask for help.

“You don’t ask for what should be offered,” she admonished her six year old sister.

“Do we eat them?” her twelve year old brother asks her, meaning the guts from the squirrels they have just hunted.

“Not yet,” she says.

But they could have to eat them soon because her father has put their house as his bail bond, then disappeared. If he doesn’t show up for his trial, they will be homeless within the week.

“I’ll find him,” Ree tells the policeman who has given her the news.

Determined, she starts her quest, and even though nobody, not even her only uncle, wants to help her, she perseveres.

“He is dead,” her father’s sometimes buddies tell her and take her to a house, once a meth lab, destroyed in an explosion.

“Father was not careless,” she spits at them. “Besides this happened long ago. There is grass growing already.”

Ignoring the fear that looms in the furtive eyes, the forceful threats of those she questions, she keeps on searching.

But there is a code of silence in these mountains and the drug lord’s family blocks her every move filling the screen with a menace so palpable it is almost visible.

Bleak like the bare landscape of the Ozak woods where Ree lives, Winter’s Bones is the chilling tale of a courageous girl who will defy this code of silence for the love of her family, even though she knows all too well that doing so can get her killed.

Based on a novel by Daniel Woodrell and winner of the Best Picture and Best Screenplay at the Sundance Festival this year, Winter’s Bone is a fantastic movie. Unfortunately one that not many will see.