Well, gee. Billed as 2010′s entry in the “indie flick that could” hot shit department, Winter’s Bone certainly has its redeeming qualities—particularly its stark cinematography and a superb lead performance by Jennifer Lawrence—but man, does it feel empty until a gripping sequence near the conclusion. I’d equate my reaction to Winter’s Bone to a lesser version of how I felt about the Coen’s True Grit, which I’d call underwhelming rather than soulless: in True Grit, the film meanders along, always enjoyable but never striking—save for, like Winter’s Bone, a wonderful female star turn in the lead—until the snake scene jolts it out of its sleepwalking solidness (let’s be honest; the Coen’s can do this in their sleep). However, at least the Coen’s track record of their work improving a second time through has me eager to take another gander at True Grit sometime in the future. Winter’s Bone…not so much. Aside from the production values, there’s just nothing to grab onto. Lawrence does everything she possibly can with her part, but its written as somewhat of a small-budget, austere caricature: an abandoned young girl deep in rural Missouri forced to mature in a hurry to care for her family, and overcome a ton of local resistance to her nosing around in the dark secrets lurking in her father’s past. Versions of this have been done endlessly. There’s no spice to it. It meanders along from point A to point B, always pretty and well-acted, but never engaging beyond the surface.