Winter's Bone

Award-winning Southern noir proves a rich source for chilly thrills

Winter’s Bone has been garnered with praise and awards since its release, and with damn good reason. This remarkable family-drama-cum-thriller stars Jennifer Lawrence as 17 year-old Ozark Mountains native Ree Dolly. The sole carer for her younger siblings and her almost catatonic mother, Ree finds herself in a race against time when her father skips bail having put their home up as the bond.

Adapted from the novel by Daniel Woodrell, Winter’s Bone is a mesmerising and often harrowing glimpse into a close-knit world rarely ever featured in cinema. Full of mesmerising performances and striking cinematography, the film’s biggest trump card is director Debra Granik’s refusal to fill it with hillbilly caricatures, ensuring that this ‘Southern noir’ boasts a convincing sense of authenticity that makes its story and characters feel all the richer.

Picture: Bleak. That’s the first world that comes to mind when watching Winter’s Bone. Shot through with icy blues and chilling greys, this isn’t a film you’d expect to really bring the best out of your home cinema system. And it’s true that some of the interiors seem a little flat and dull. But when the story moves into the great outdoors (which is where the film spends most of its running time) the AVC 1.85:1 1080p encode really comes into its own, layering the screen with exceptional detailing and depth of field.
Picture rating: 5/5

Audio: Winter’s Bone is the kind of film that demonstrates that you’d don’t have to crank everything up to the max to create and effective and immersive soundscape. The disc’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix is every bit as subdued as the film itself, but by employing subtle ambient and atmospheric sounds across all channels it helps bring the onscreen world to life in a wholly believable fashion. With that said, there are several sequences that demand something a little more dynamic, and the mix doesn’t falter here either, proving that when necessary it can deliver a little more aggressive and punchy.
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras: Sadly, Artificial Eye’s disc scores well on the picture and sound front, things aren’t quite so rosy when it comes to bonus features. The big disappointment is the lack of the commentary track by director Debra Granik and director of photography Michael McDonough that appeared on the US release. As it is, you’ll just have to do with an interesting 47min Making of… packed with behind-the-scenes footage, an alternate opening, a reel of four deleted scenes, the trailer and a music video for the track Hardscrabble Elegy. Of these, only the trailer is in hi-def.
Extra rating: 2/5

We say: Although the extras are a little lacking, this superb film still comes highly recommended on Blu-ray.

Artificial Eye, Region B BD, £20 approx, On sale now