Winter's Bone is not the kind of title you normally expect to see popping up at the summer multiplex, and really, the movie isn't the usual either. Based on the novel by Daniel Woddrell, Winter's Bone follows 17-year-old Ree Dolly's desperate search through remote, meth-ridden southern Missouri to find her deadbeat father, who put up her family's home as bond during his last stint in jail. The film is unflinching in depicting the violence, cruelty and indifference Ree encounter, and lead actress Jennifer Lawrence puts in a powerful, unwavering performance that makes you believe a 17-year-old girl could even survive all of this. Winter's Bone is not summer escapism, but it's also the movie most worth your time of any in theaters now. It won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and is enjoying by far the best reviews of the summer so far.

Earlier this week I got the chance to talk to Winter's Bone director Debra Granik about her experience filming on location in Ozarks, her dedication to staying true to the region and casting local actors, and the mythic elements of her story. Winter's Bone is in limited release this weekend, and really, if you see one movie in theaters, see this one.

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