Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy ★★★

Wasn’t a fan of all the cheesy narration, but I didn’t find this film so bad as to warrant all the terrible scores. Maybe if it was trying to push an agenda like I’m assuming the memoir was, but I never got that impression from it. Neither did I think it was trying to present this one family as what everybody from that area is like, but simply to convey relatable issues from JD’s experiences growing up which many people do go through: the cycle of poverty, drug abuse and absentee parents. There’s also some heart to the family despite their struggles.

It could’ve benefited from a more coherent structure rather than the constant back and forths. I know we’re supposed to be seeing only a snippet of JD’s adult life in how he made it to Yale, but this aspect still felt underdeveloped, with the character (real or otherwise) just not being particularly compelling. My main issue was how the pacing chugged along despite the melodrama and the overall lack of any emotional punch. Performance-wise, Glenn Close really tries here and is the clear standout. I hope she gets her recognition some day but I don’t think it’ll be for this role. Amy Adams also tried, but maybe too much.

For me this was another middle-of-the-road Howard picture that probably doesn’t deserve any awards outside of makeup and hairstyling, but I didn’t find it the caricature it’s been made out to be.

Firequackers liked these reviews