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Hillbilly Elegy

Based on a best-selling memoir, this film by Ron Howard is about J.D. Vance, who grew up with a mother (played by Amy Adams) who had a number of mental and substance use problems, was raised by his Mamaw (played by Glenn Close), and managed to go to college and get accepted into law school. This is one of the few movies I have watched that was torture. The topic is very interesting to me; I enjoy these stories of kids who beat the odds and rise out of their circumstances. I have not read the book upon which this film is based, but I did read a similarly-themed book, Educated, which I really loved; I can find myself in both of these stories. But the execution of the film left me annoyed and holding on to the couch to keep myself from turning off the TV; I felt like I was watching actors were pretending to be poor (I am not entirely sure how “hillbilly” came about since they primarily lived in Ohio, it seems, but spent summers (?) in the deep south). I don’t feel like the film gave me any deep insight into the characters. The acting by Glenn Close was very good, but even that couldn’t save the film for me. I was glad when it ended. One of the few “thumbs down” movies from me. I will put the book on my reading list. (2020; 2 Stars)

About Gary Burkholder

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