Unfairly ‘Deliverance’ still has most people’s image of Appalachian locals but Hillbilly Elegy was a memoir that showed the area is much more than that written as it was by J.D.Vance a native of the area who had gone on to study at Yale Law School. The book became something of a cause celebre during the 2016 US Presidential election with its depiction of a disaffected white working class and for author JD Vance he had a far from easy childhood.
Vance is played by Gabriel Basso son to Bev (Amy Adams) and grandson to Mamaw (Glenn Close) and the film flits back and fore from his turbulent childhood with his days at law school where he is called back to his hometown by his sister to help sort out his mess of a mother. His mum Bev is a mess, having had children at 18 she trained as a nurse but became addicted to drugs and has been rushed into hospital after another overdose. Focusing on the three generations, a crotchety yet caring grandma, a deeply troubled mum and a son who falls into undesirable company it’s a testimony to anyone with a difficult upbringing that they can better themselves.
Hillbilly Elegy is directed by Ron Howard in a move away from big budget movies (Inferno) or salvaging blockbusters (Solo: A Star Wars story) and from documentary’s (The Beatles Eight Days a Week) and back to human drama. As an ex-actor himself he’s always been great in getting performances out of actors and it’s no different here. Amy Adams as the potty mouthed mum lurching down a path of self destruction and Glenn Close almost unrecognizable as the family matriarch. Both are great and between them they have 13 Oscar nominations with neither having ever won. Perhaps this will change it for them and much was made when the trailer was released that the film had an air of awards bait about it. It’s a decent film anchored by the female leads but despite its best selling literary source this is still one of those misery memoirs of overcoming childhood adversity that we’ve seen before but this is still inspirational and highly watchable. .
Here’s the Hillbilly Elegy trailer…….