Yes, Jennifer Lawrence gives a great performance as Ree Dolly. She’s extremely naturalistic and emotional. What I’m saying is there is much more to this movie besides Lawrence. At 17 years old, Ree is taking care of her two younger siblings and her sick mom. At the beginning of the film, she finds out that her father is out on bail and has put up their house as bond. If he doesn’t report to court, they are going to lose their home.
So Ree goes around her town in the Ozark Mountains moving from one person to the next to figure out where her father is. To say the people are unwelcoming is almost too much of an understatement. It appears that no one in the world liked Jessup Dolly and even talking about him causes great hostility. However the real suspense of this film isn’t from outbursts, but the silence.
This is an incredible screenplay. Every character only says what is absolutely necessary and nothing more. When they do speak it’s always fascinating. None of them are well educated, but their ignorance does not hamper their intelligence of articulation. Their jargon is fully realized and addicting.
Beyond the dialog, the script is brilliant by not having a wasted scene. The initial concept of Ree moving from person to person could seem tedious but the tension is raised with every interaction. There are ramifications of Ree poking her nose in business that isn’t talked about. This is best scene in an early scene with her uncle, Teardrop played by John Hawkes. Teardrop is very angry at his brother’s actions and just hearing Ree’s questions make him violent.
I had only seen Hawkes as a weasel-y character on the TV shows Eastbound and Down and LOST. Here gives an amazing performance especially through his screen presence. His mannerisms make him a troubling force and worthy of gasps from other characters. Yet he is never a villain, even when it would be incredibly easy to label him that way.
Everybody in this movie has untapped layers. Everyone is hiding information including their involvement in this story. This movie is unique and very rewarding the more it is examined. It’s a real treat.