(out of 5)
Jennifer Lawrence is excellent in this deeply felt drama about a teenager living in the Ozarks with her invalid mother and two younger siblings. She is informed that her drug-dealing, on-the-lam father has put their home on the line as payment for his bail bond and needs to show up for his court date or else they will lose everything. Determined to keep her home together, Lawrence sets out to find him, but inquiring among his equally unlawful friends leads to trouble: people start telling her to go home and mind her own business, her further investigations leading to increased danger for her and her family. Debra Granik’s direction is so superb that she is able to set a noirish detective story in a poor, rural setting without being cute about it; the view of the dire economic circumstances and barely surviving culture of these people is neither condescending nor sentimental, and the characters are so rich in sympathy and danger that the whole thing is engrossing from beginning to end. Lawrence carries the entire thing effortlessly, while John Hawkes pulls off a marvelously charismatic turn as the terrifying uncle who does his best to keep his niece off the scent of her father’s trail.
Directed by Debra Granik
Cinematography by Michael McDonough
Music by Dickon Hinchliffe
Production Design by Mark White
Costume Design by Rebecca Hofherr
Film Editing by Affonso Goncalves