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Winter’s Bone and Seeing Yourself in The Movies.

August 5th, 2010 by Brad Lawrence

My wife and I went and saw Winter’s Bone last night. It is a small release film concerning the Meth trade in Southern Missouri.

I was raised in a family that was pretty much evenly split between Evangelical Christians and a meth cartel in the Saint Francois Mountains, on the Missouri side of the Ozarks. In the county where I was born, they discovered 76 Meth labs in 2004. In the county just north they found 259. This does not mean that Saint Francois is any better than Madison, but rather that Madison is on the Ozark Plateau and is mostly wide open space, where as my people are in the mountains where you aren’t going to find anything that means to be hidden. At any rate, in the same statistical year, Missouri had more known labs than any other state by more than a thousand, the runner up being Iowa (2,788 vs. 1,300)

I write on this subject a lot, having lost three siblings to the trade in one way or another, and watched a great portion of my family turn into rabid animals who act as if they always have one leg in a trap. But there is something about seeing it as written by someone else. Something so intimate and invasive. It is like being stolen from and awarded something all at the same time. Like having a stranger on the subway tell you that you have the most beautiful scars. Walking out, I teared up for dead people whose funerals I skipped at the time.

All of this emotional catharsis in the sushi place after the show means, of course, that the film is brilliantly executed. I am ashamed to say that it captures it quite well. There are other sides it does not capture, like the inherent comedy of some of the redneck antics, but it is a movie, not a TV series, and it has two hours to tell a story.

Just to have it said, my solo show Monsters In The Wood and the forthcoming book based on the show does cover those other bases. Just to have it said.

Anyway, see this movie. It is ugly and beautiful and it made an Ozark refugee get a little weepy on the Lower East Side last night.

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