Jennifer Lawrence’s breakout film has much more to offer under the surface.

Winter’s Bone is a tale about drug abuse, poverty, parental neglect, and the way these things coexist in a life cycle. These heavy topics would fall on unreceptive audiences without some sort of authenticity. This is where Debra Granik shines, establishing a lifestyle not with broad strokes, but with quiet details.

This is how she is able to craft a hopeful film filled with horror, a film filled with complex characters living lives that look real to us even if the situation may be unfamiliar. Crafting these details can be as simple as lingering on a shot for just a few more seconds than expected or including a sequence of a dog wandering around – anything to further the idea that the lives the film contains are real.

Essayist Isabella Cuevas Pierson analyzes Winter’s Bone this way and her findings are cluttered, organic, and rich, like a water droplet under a microscope.

More to Read: