Seventeen-year-old Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) is desperately trying to hold her household together. Mama is sick and incapacitated, Daddy is on the lam and the metaphorical wolves are circling. Ree's problem in this film is simple: She needs to locate her father and bring him to his court date or the family will lose its home. Director Debra Granik and her team of designers effectively place us in the blasted world of white rural poverty, of clear-cut mountainsides, rotted-out mobile homes and rusting vehicles, where the few jobs involve guarding prison inmates, serving in the military or cooking crystal meth. But this isn't merely a high-minded helping of left-leaning cinematic granola; crucially, the film also carries some of the Grand Guignol appeal of such outré entertainments as Fargo
, Evil Dead 2
and any movie in which a character gets locked up in a barn with a family of mean rednecks. In addition to Lawrence, the fine cast includes such TV stalwarts as Dale Dickey, John Hawkes and Garret Dillahunt.