HILLBILLY ELEGY – Rated R – 1 hr. 56 mins.

DIRECTOR:  Ron Howard

WRITERS:  J.D. Vance (Memoir), Vanessa Taylor

STARRING:  Glenn Close, Amy Adams, Gabriel Basso, Haley Bennett, Freida Pinto, Owen Asztalos, and Bo Hopkins

Based on the memoir by J.D. Vance (Owen Asztalos / Gabriel Basso) we venture to the hills of Appalachia, where young J.D. embraces his family’s life amongst the hills every Summer growing up, along with their seemingly backwoods ways, and very strong personalities too.  When he ventures back to “the city” with his single Mom Bev (Amy Adams), and his sister Lindsay (Haley Bennett), and his grandparents Mamaw (Glenn Close) and Papaw (Bo Hopkins) in tow, he starts to unravel that his families “simple life” throughout the generations, has been anything but…

And now between his mother’s drug habit, and not very good choice in men, young J.D. is struggling to find his place in this messed up reality, beyond what he is expected to become by his Mother, which is nothing.  When Mamaw decides to take over his upbringing, J.D. finds the strength to keep moving forward as best as he can, to become the man he wants to be.  When he finally reaches his own pinnacle of success, attending Yale Law School, it seems that a bright future is finally within his grasp, but, just as both his personal life with girlfriend Usha (Freida Pinto), and his professional life start to move in a positive direction, it seems that the people back home can’t let him elude their grasp…as he is forced to return to try to fix another mess that his mother has managed to get herself in…

HILLBILLY ELEGY: Glenn Close (“Mamaw”). Photo Cr. Lacey Terrell/NETFLIX © 2020
HILLBILLY ELEGY: Amy Adams (“Bev”). Photo Cr. Lacey Terrell/NETFLIX © 2020

I give HILLBILLY ELEGY a rating of MUST SEE AT A THEATER NEAR YOU or ON NETFLIX!  I thoroughly enjoyed viewing Ron Howard’s latest creation, which has to have been a heart wrenching undertaking, as we experience this family’s painful existence, encompassing generations worth of trying to break the cycles of addiction, physical abuse, mental illness, and poverty.  Glenn Close and Amy Adams both give outstanding performances all throughout this film, as their painful, and very dysfunctional Mother/Daughter dynamic plays out on screen.  I’m anxious to see if they both don’t receive Golden Globe and/or Academy Award nods for their performances once award season arrives too.  And having the opportunity to catch both Owen Asztalos and Gabriel Basso performances, bringing J.D.’s life to the big screen, was exceptional too, as both of their performances will have you in tears, as you live through the many uncertainties in life that this young man endures.  Haley Bennett’s performance is very good too, as the big sister trying to help her little brother all along the way, although saving herself, and creating a functional family of her own, must be her top priority, to achieve her own survival within her own toxic, and cruel existence within this family dynamic.  Emotionally charged from beginning to end, HILLBILLY ELEGY takes you deep into a life of struggle and pain, and one of resilience and triumph too, if you’re willing to take this moving ride with these real-life individuals, to see where it all ends up, and to see if the happy ending you wish for this family to experience the whole way through, ever truly comes true…

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