Winter’s Bone: don’t miss this Missouri story

Do you love the tick-infested, silent razor ridges of the Ozarks? Have you hiked off trial to the quiet limestone drips in the sharp valleys? Do you wonder about the people that live IMG_4430 IMG_4456here? You won’t want to miss Daniel Woodrell‘s book and film Winter’s Bone. Just type meth and Missouri into your favorite search engine, and you’ll see Missouri has nothing to be proud of. Exactly what it might feel like is well captured by Winter’s Bone. The film uses some of the rare and wonderful language Woodrell is famous for. A beating of a young girl, the film’s protagonist, is described as “putting the hurt on her.”

The film has other strengths. I wouldn’t say there is character development, but complex sides of characters are slowly revealed. Universal human dilemmas are many, like what is food depends on how hungry you are. Something not food now may be food tomorrow, like a squirrel’s intestines. We sometimes have to trust people we know are untrustworthy. Life is not what you do on your own, but what you do with what you are dealt, so don’t be too quick to pride.

It is winter now. The sere oaks lighten only occasionally with chickadees and titmice. A thaw only muddies the trails. This film will make me think twice about stopping at a rural Missouri home for a glass of water or directions. Oh, wait, I never do those things any more.


About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
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