Her family home in danger of being repossessed after her dad skips bail and disappears, Ozark teen Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) breaks the local code of conduct by confronting her kin about their conspiracy of silence. Should she fail to track her father down, Ree Dolly, her younger siblings, and their disabled mother will soon be rendered homeless.
This film tells the sad story of inbred, poverty-stricken, Missouri Ozark hillbillies trying to scratch out a living on poor soil and even worse personal resources, so it was no wonder meth production was embraced as a life-changing profit center that had the illegal potential to change their lives for the better. Their poor lives before meth had a certain dignity in the hard struggle for survival in an uncaring world that had passed them by or never allowed them to catch up, either or both, but cheap and dangerous drug production leading to fast but risky money took these unfortunates down a road that surely few would have chosen if they had a chance beforehand to see any of the personal and social harm it created in a society already at great risk of decent survival. What great harm it did was shown and acted brilliantly, as it pushed these already at-risk people lower down the chain of life than before and surely even lower than the wild animals they had to kill for food.
A young girl of 17, seeming older than her years, beaten up and beaten down, wary of those around her but needing their help, and with 2 young siblings and a helpless mother to care for, she learned that her drug-making, drugged-out father disappeared and missed a court date for a drug arrest, and the most important task of her life then became finding her father before they lost their meager home to bondsmen, as that sorry home place was all they had in the world but it was home and she intended with all her heart and soul to do whatever it took to keep it and her family together. The acting throughout was appropriately serious to deadly, with hardly even a smile to be seen, and left us thankful as seldom before for whatever our own lives give us compared to those in the story.
Such a grim and foreboding task the daughter had, with imminent harm threatening around every corner she turned and behind every door on which she knocked, even those of relatives. Determination can get you far, but only so far unless you get a few breaks, and that long quest for a decent break was what kept viewer's eyes glued to the screen until it all played out in the end as could be expected in that dire situation.
Bleak, stark, harsh, mean, cruel...all those tough adjectives were present in full force throughout her search, but present also was her eternal fire of human spirit and family duty that would never quit. When actual survival is at stake, this story showed well that some of us truly can find the right stuff to survive when no better choices are possible.
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