Chances are that Missouri's tourist board won't be endorsing Debra Granik's nerve-racking slice of Midwest American gothic anytime soon.
Jennifer Lawrence plays Ree Dolly, a resolute, poor 17-year-old who has been saddled with her two young siblings and her near catatonic mother. Ree desperately needs to find her missing father who has signed over the family's homestead as bail bond collateral. If he's not found (dead or alive) within a week, for a court hearing, the bond company will take the house and turf out Ree's family. So the tenacious teen is required to search for him in the vexing terrain of the Ozark Mountains, where the locals are, in the words of Owen Wilson's cowboy in Night at the Museum 2, "Not a friendly, I repeat not a friendly." It quickly becomes clear that Ree's papa, who had been running a crystal meth laboratory, has upset the mountain folk in some way and the rednecks take out their spooky fury on a besieged Ree. However, she does have one ace up her tattered sleeve, her menacing, drug-abusing uncle, Teardrop (a thoroughly convincing performance from John Hawkes).
This gripping and taut drama, based on Daniel Woodrell's "country noir" thriller, benefits from an exceptional and intense performance from Lawrence and from Michael McDonough's adroit cinematography.