Breakout star Jennifer Lawrence highlights this bleak film about a 17-year old girl who is forced to handle family matters when her father, a convict on the run, goes missing. If he doesn’t show for his court appointment, the family will lose their home and everything they own. It’s not a happy picture, that’s for sure. But the performance by Lawrence won her an Oscar nomination and I can see why. She plays her character, Ree, with just enough spunk and anger to get her noticed. However I have to argue that this wasn’t actually a performance that I will remember nor is this film that memorable.
It’s a dark tale, for sure, however there isn’t a lot going on in this movie that kept me all that interested. Sure…the story isn’t a happy one and it’s relatively short, clocking in at just over an hour and a half. But I sat through all of it and I kept wondering when something big was going to happen and honestly…it never really does. There is a scene that pretty much sets the movie on its edge for a short time involving a boat and a chainsaw, but this film never really gets into the dark recesses that I thought it would and for the first time I can honestly say I think it would be a better film with more violence.
Ree’s father is a drug maker and has shady dealings with a lot of people, including her uncle (only known as Teardrop through the entire movie) who is played by the excellent John Hawkes. It’s HIS character that gives this film more of a soul as he at first appears as this menacing dealer but later becomes almost a driving force to keep the Dolly family in their home when the police come calling. But with all the possible scenerios where this film could get angry or really ugly, it sort of skirts it and doesn’t show anything…and that’s where it loses me. I have to imagine what happens in some spots and what happens to a character almost makes me sympathize more for them. I guess some would say that I shouldn’t need more violence in order to sympathize with a 17-year old who wants to sign up for the armed forces because she has nowhere else to turn for money other than prostitution but…well…I guess I did?
Not that this film is terrible because it’s not. It’s just not outstanding and I thought I would see more a more intense film. Lawrence does do a great job with her character though and I AM looking forward to her turn as the lead character, Katniss, in “The Hunger Games.” I have to imagine she will be great in that role and I look forward to seeing her again in that one!
OVERALL RATING: C