Directed by: Debra Granik
A young woman struggles to keep her family together. A young woman in rural Missouri goes on an escapade in order to find out what happened to her dad. A girl that is not yet legal is forced to raise her younger sister, brother and her sick mother after her father abandons her and then gets killed. A police officer shows up at a young rural girl’s house to tell her that she is going to lose the only thing that is keeping her family together, the house, if her father doesn’t show up for court. Her drug addled extended family get in the way of preserving her close family.
This film is about a young woman overcoming the odds. These odds are the type that are very real and could determine the rest of her family’s life and her own life as well. They are not forced. They are not her trying to get a boy. It also does not put rural America in particular good light. But I feel because I have experienced what Ree has gone through indirectly that this film is true to the problem and to the setting.
I grew up in rural Illinois, not far from where this film takes place. I myself lived in what by comparison was a big city. However I it was nowhere near big enough for me. But this story is not about me, but about my cousins. My mother grew up in abject poverty in a small town that looks a lot like the one in the film. My cousins, while not in abject poverty, still live in this area. They will probably never get out. Although none of my family as I know do it, cooking meth is an accepted part of life in these areas. With big corporations putting their fingers into farming, it becomes harder and harder for small farmers to make a living on farming alone. Many of them have day jobs, including construction and factory working while doing the farming on their downtime. Of course this kind of work never makes one rich or sometimes even able to feed their whole family. So they delve into projects that are not exactly legal. Sometimes they come into by being themselves addicted and not having enough money, but they do have enough land. Most people do it as a legitimate source of income. Some people do get caught, some people do die in explosions, but most of the people end up like John Hawkes’ character, Teardrop, angry, prematurely old, and addicted. I could go down there now and point out where people cook and whom the people cook are just by looking at their property.
I feel for Ree more than any other character in a film that I have watched for a long time. All she wants to do is keep her family together. She doesn’t care about the drugs, she doesn’t care about who killed her father, she just wants to preserve what is left of it. But no matter what she does, she can’t get anywhere without getting into massive amounts of trouble. It isn’t until Teardrop comes in to help his only family left does she gets anywhere.
I have mentioned Teardrop several times now, but I cannot mention him again without mentioning the actor who portrays him. John Hawkes is an interesting actor with a great face and growling way of talking that can be heightened or put aside depending on whom he is portraying. His most memorable character outside of Teardrop has to be his character as the Jew in Deadwood. Deadwood is one of the best series ever to exist. Watch it now if you haven’t before. John Hawkes is amazing in this film. That is all I have to say. His character is different from anything else he has portrayed before and yet he is this character. He has a part in as a cult leader in Martha Marcy May Marlene that comes out later this year that I can’t wait to see. He is one of my favorite actors of all time for only two roles. Isn’t that crazy? But he is that good in this film and in Deadwood.
My recommendation is to watch this film now. It is currently on Netflix watch instantly, so if you have a netflix account, you have no excuses. Everything about this film is what I have experienced in my dealings with this side of society, from the way the house looks to the types of characters in this film. I love it and it is easily in my top 5 films of 2010. I’m sorry I know I’m not supposed to gush about these sorts of things, but I can’t help it. I do really like this film.