Netflix’s Hillbilly Elegy Review: Toxic Household and Aspirations!

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Hillbilly Elegy premiered on 24th November 2020 on Netflix. Directed by Ron Howard, the film is based on the 2016 memoir of the same name by J. D. Vance and stars Glenn Close, Amy Adams, Gabriel Basso, Haley Bennett, Freida Pinto, Bo Hopkins, and Owen Asztalos alongside other cast members.

An Elegy To The Living Dead?

Hillbilly Elegy is one of those movies that’ll make you want to question human characteristics. Based on a true story, the film seems to have a lot of rough edges but it doesn’t exactly make up for them by the end. Hillbilly Elegy revolves around the life of JD Vance, a Yale Law student, as he walks the audiences through his life and experiences with a drug-abusing parent (who ODs on heroin) and conflicted family relations. The movie is mostly in flashbacks and that is how we know his story while in reality, he is a second-year law student at Yale University with a girlfriend named Usha (Freida Pinto) and an insufficient financial aid package.

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With an interview lined up for his summer internship at a prestigious law firm, he gets a call from his sister Lindsay (Haley Bennet) regarding the entire situation at home getting out of hand and that he has to visit his hometown and take care of things. Furthermore, through flashbacks, we see the repetitive verbal, physical, and mental abuse that was thrown at him by both his mother Bev (Amy Adams) and Mamaw (Glenn Close). It’s sad and not justified for a child to carry the burden of their family at the cost of their own growth, peace, and life when the family in itself is inconsiderate.

Hillbilly Elegy

Every movie has to have a meaning or something to take away from it but somehow, Hillbilly Elegy fails to do any such thing. While the struggle is a valuable part of a person’s life it goes on overdrive here – JD doesn’t know which fork to use in a big fancy lawyers’ meeting, JD’s cards get declined, JD has an abusive family, JD is just the saddest. However, transitions between the past and the present are smooth and easy-flowing.

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There is no reason for you to watch this adaptation of a memoir. In JD’s original memoir there are a lot many things that would have made this film a huge success and a point of constructive criticism, satire, and debate but the writer here chose to take just the overused, seen-time-and-again misery of a boy coming from an abusive background. Moreover, when the audiences cannot connect to any of the characters, it becomes difficult to feel sympathy for them or feel their pain. The characters of Memaw and Bev are overused without anything to hold a connection with. Just two mean people are what they come across as.

If I talk about human characteristics, which I mentioned at the very beginning, the storyline fails to actually dive into the human mind and give you a valid reason for why a person is behaving in a certain way. The only scene where you feel pity for young Vance is when Bev tries to crash their car and furthermore assaults him and he escapes her, that’s it. Hillbilly Elegy is not the worst of films this year, but it fails to create an impression on you – you leave with nothing to hold on to the experience.

Stream It or Skip It

Hillbilly Elegy
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SKIP IT! While the actors of the film have spoken against the criticism that the film has gained, the film, in reality, fails to portray its main theme. The entire idea of JD Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, which depicted the plight and struggle of the working class, seems to have been removed on purpose in this entire creation. The politically conservative, anti-welfare streak is not spoken for anywhere in the entire film.

Hillbilly Elegy is now streaming on Netflix.

Read our other reviews here.

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Hillbilly Elegy is a failed adaptation which doesn't even try to stick to the source material. Stream It or Skip It? Read Here.


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