The Wikipedia site for the Missouri Ozarks shows a beautiful photograph of remote-looking mountains (‘as seen from Knob Lick, Missouri’), just exactly the sort of remote landscape that lured me into signing up for a horseriding holiday through the Carpathian Mountains in Romania. Which somehow seemed romantic-remote, as opposed to the Missouri Ozarks, which seem a little…scary-remote.

Having now seen the film Winter’s Bone, I can reliably report that the Ozarks are the sort of place you really might want to think twice about visiting.

It is, however, a very beautiful and moving film about a 17-year-old girl who desperately needs to find her drug-dealing father, and about as far from the Tom Cruise school of movie making as it’s possible to get. The title conjures up almost everything you need to know about this spare, chilly, foreign-feeling story set in an America that Hollywood doesn’t even know exists. And I’m guessing it’s going to do for the Ozarks what Deliverance did for the Georgia wilderness. In other words, I don’t think they’ll be needing to open up another runway at Turkey Mountain Airport anytime very soon.

Mark Twain, Jesse James, Rush Limbaugh and T.S. Eliot all came from Missouri. Which somehow just proves to me that America is a much stranger place than people generally give it credit for. Even after a week of Pastor Terry Jones.

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