Thursday, January 20, 2011

From Book to Film: Winter's Bone

Ree nearly fell but would not let it happen in front of the law. She heard thunder clapping between her ears and Beelzebub scratchin' a fiddle. The boys and her and Mom would be dogs in the fields without the house . . .

. . . She said, "I'll find him." [pgs 16-17]

Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell
Little, Brown & Co, 2006

I initially saw the movie trailer for Winter's Bone at Linus's Blanket, Nicole's blog, and became interested in both the book and the movie. It wasn't until I had the movie in hand (rented through Netflix) that I suddenly had the urge to read the book first--so off I went to download it on my trusty little nook.

What drew me to Winter's Bone was the character of Ree, her determination and steadfastness to protect her family. Ree Dolly is only seventeen. Her father went off on one of his many trips and has yet to return. Ree learns that her father has a court hearing coming up and if he fails to appear, the family will lose their house. With a mother who is suffering from severe depression and unable to care for herself as well as two young siblings, Ree has taken on the role of parent in the home. It falls upon her to search for her father to try and save not only the family home, but the family as well.

She sets out to question her kin who are secretive by their very nature. Theirs is a life of crime, selling and manufacturing drugs being the family trade. Set in the Ozarks, during the winter months, the author captures the bleakness and poverty of the area, mixed in with its beauty. The people are hard and untrusting. It's clear that they have something to hide.

While Woodrell's writing is descriptive, the actual dialogue and story somehow come across as raw and harsh. It has a noir quality to it. The movie itself sets that same tone--the muted music, the silence, and so much being said through expressions and body language. I was especially cognizant of the role the women played throughout the book and movie--all strong, many trapped in their situation.

The movie varies from the book in minor details. In the book, Ree has two younger brothers, however, in the movie, she has a brother and a sister. There were other differences, such as a lack of snow in the movie whereas it was a big part of the story in the book. The overall story remained the same. Jennifer Laurence who plays Ree in the movie had the same moxie as I envisioned in the book's character and John Hawkes was well cast as Teardrop, Ree's uncle, at once threatening while also being compassionate.

This is one of those books and movies that leaves you sitting for a few minutes after all is said and done to reflect on the story and the characters. It is very much a story about survival, family and human nature.

Winter's Bone
Drama - 2010 (Norway) (rated R)
Directed by Debra Granik
Screenplay written by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini
Based on novel written by Daniel Woodrell

Source: E-book bought with gift card; movie rented through Netflix at my own expense.

© 2011, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. I had no idea this was a book first! I saw the movie and enjoyed it.

  2. someone just recommended the movie to me. it is waiting for me at the library. thanks for the great review.

  3. This book and movie sound a little heavy going for me. But an interesting subject for sure.

  4. Wow, I love stories that leave me feeling like that!

  5. The movie was certainly pretty heavy, leaving me thinking about this "foreign" culture. The actress who played Ree was pretty remarkable. I can't say that I exactly enjoyed the movie, but I was impressed, horrified, moved, and left with so many lingering images.

  6. I had never heard of the book or the movie until a few days ago, and yours is the first review I have read. I really want to check it out now, as it really does sound like an unforgettable story.

  7. I always learn of such interesting books, and movies, from you! I made a book request for the audio version to the online library so hope they can get that, or the ebook maybe. Might have to get the movie too.

  8. I think the reason she had a sister in the movie was because that little girl actually lived in the house they used! Adds some authenticity.

  9. I would love to say I will read the book first, but in all reality that probably won't happen. It is on my Netflix Q though, as many think it will be nominated for some Oscars.

  10. I'm glad to see you enjoyed both! I didn't realize it was a book and I've already seen the movie. I'm looking forward to the book now, but will probably wait awhile so the story isn't so fresh in my mind.

    The life of those who live in Southern MO is pretty scary, it's real, but scary.

  11. Lenore - I might not have known either had it not been for Nicole. I really liked the movie too.

    Diane - I hope you like the movie, Diane!

    Caspette - It is heavy, but well worth reading and watching, I think.

    Kathy - Me too. Those are often the best stories.

    Jenclair - I can see why Jennifer Lawrence is a possible contender for an academy award. She certainly deserves to be!

  12. Heather (Zibilee) - It's such a moving story. I am glad I decided to read it.

    Carla - I think it's worth checking out. I hope you are able to get a copy!

    Amy - That's an interesting tidbit of trivia! Thanks for sharing, Amy.

    Sandy - I hope you like the movie, Sandy!

    Kris - I can understand waiting--I don't know why I have the urge to jump into the movies so quickly after reading the books. I think it's my blog's fault. LOL

  13. I should have known this was a book first! Now I have to look for it!

  14. Jaimie - It happens to me all the time--when I don't know a movie was based on a book until after the fact.

  15. I just purchased this one last week after checking it out from the library and having to return it unread. I am definitely planning to read the book first and then see the movie. I've heard good things about both.

  16. I have never heard of this before. I was going to add it to my library holds but I am up to my limit at the moment... I had to make my own because I don't read my own books enough. lol They also have the movie, so I made note of that too for when the time comes.


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