Debra Granik could have gone in any number of directions after the success of Winter’s Bone. She decided to focus on a documentary portrait of Ron “Stray Dog” Hall (who played Thump Milton in the 2010 film), an aging biker and RV park manager from southern Missouri. When we are introduced to Hall and his friends, they appear to be the very image of “middle America” held by New Yorkers: hard-drinking (moonshine, no less), gun-toting, tattooed motorcycle freaks. Slowly, gradually, another image comes into view, of a man who has been permanently altered by his tours of duty in Vietnam, who has come to terms with himself and acquired a rare wisdom and patience in the process, and who is now dedicated to helping his friends, his loved ones, and his fellow vets. This is a moving film about community and the bonds that hold it together; in its surprising second half, when the children of Hall’s Mexican wife arrive in Missouri, it is also a vivid snapshot of a changing America.
Los Angeles Film Festival 2014
London Film Festival 2014
“Pure humanity and heartbreak.” —Scout Tafoya, RogerEbert.com
“Debra Granik provides plenty of surprises in her superb slice of American life on the margins.” —Andrew Barker, Variety
“Starts as a character study and builds into something much larger.” —Ben Kenigsberg, The A.V. Club