Aronne Ibarra’s review published on Letterboxd:
I think this is my 30th film of 2020 so far, and my God was that uneventful. Everybody seems to hate this film and you know what, count me in.
Hillbilly Elegy thought it was a legitimately good movie. Based on a memoir by J.D. Vance, it's a sentimental look into the death of hillbilly culture and values in pursuit of the American Dream. If it works, it's probably watchable or even brilliant. If it doesn't, it's most likely Oscar bait shit. Ron Howard's Hillbilly Elegy is definitely the latter.
Howard's direction, or the lack thereof, makes this one of the dullest films of the year. The writing was amateurish and almost laughable. The editing was nothing special and cutting to flashback after flashback gets insanely repetitive. The pacing was way off as well and it's a drag to get through at almost two hours. Hans Zimmer's music was also meh.
The handling of "hillbillies" was nothing short of irresponsible and insensitive. They're stereotypically depicted as unsophisticated and violent people who reject modernization in this movie, like in other popular media. I find it insulting and offensive to these real people who don't subscribe to such one identity. This film doesn't even try to change that or put more depth in the scenario. Actually, it doesn't even try-- at all!
Amy Adams and Glenn Close are fantastic performers and that is a fact; no one can take that away from them. Having said that, they deserved so much more than this lousy script. Amy gives a strong performance but I hope she doesn't win an Oscar or anything for literally just freaking out and shouting and getting mad the whole time.
Glenn Close I thought was the best performer in here. She combines a good deal of tenderness and fury in a way she only can pull off. The script was just terrible and every other actor not named Glenn Close or Amy Adams were alright or mediocre. I'm sad that Amy and Glenn had to be part of this. Had this been in better hands...
I thought I was going to like the family dynamic of the story, all told in flashbacks basking in the golden afternoon sunlight of the 90s, with distracting music choices and a Casino poster on the wall which was more fun to look at than this film as a whole. But all of that was also extremely underwhelming despite Adams' and Close's acting. It was a pure mess capped off with a pointless ending.
Shit directing, shit writing, shit pacing, shit stereotypes, shit poster, and shit title. Ron Howard, your bait isn't even good enough to be dipped in the water.