#REVIEW: “HILLBILLY ELEGY”
By Mr. Will Wong
Based on J.D. Vance’s Memoir of the same name, Ron Howard‘s latest effort HILLBILLY ELEGY brings together a phenomenal Ensemble Cast to tell the Author/Capitalist’s inspiring story of overcoming the odds to thrive in life despite a troubled past.
The Film centers on Vance played both by Gabriel Basso (adult) and Owen Asztalos (young), whom is taken-in by his grandmother (Glenn Close) after his mother Bev (Amy Adams) is unfit to care for him. Bev is battling substance addiction and goes through a series of failed relationships, often physically and verbally abusing Gabriel and his sister Lindsay (Haley Bennett). Vance gives us a glimpse of how the culture of the Appalachians while economically-depressed, seems to promote a vicious cycle of underachieving and struggle.
HILLBILLY ELEGY belongs entirely to a pair of performances by Academy Award nominees Close and Adams, who both disappear entirely into their roles. They will be among those in discussion this Awards Season. Close is tough as nails, clear to her grandson that she doesn’t care about being liked by him. It is her instilling of this in him, along with her tough love that pushes him to rise above for a fighting chance in life. Adams is frightening in Bev‘s erratic manner, alternating between manic and sober, a performance which gives us more range than we’ve ever seen in her outstanding body of work. Howard effectively paints a backdrop where we feel at any time Vance is dangerously-close to becoming like his own mother or any of his peers.
While tough to watch at times, HILLBILLY ELEGY possesses a spirit of cathartic inspiration that we need right now that we can be thankful of the adversities we face as vehicles in moving us along to where we are destined to be in life.
HILLBILLY ELEGY arrives on Netflix Friday, November 24, 2020.