On Tuesday morning the review embargo on Ron Howard’s latest film Hillbilly Elegy was lifted. People have criticized the film, an adaptation of J.D. Vance’s 2016 novel of the same name, and the verdict is that people did not like it.
ah, the HILLBILLY ELEGY embargo is lifted. *drinks coffee*
– David Sims (@davidlsims) November 10, 2020
Rotten Tomatoes states that the film received a 21 percent approval rating. The film follows Yale law student J.D. Vance back to his home town in the Appalachian Mountains, where he reflects on the history of his family and his own future. Although Hillbilly Elegy boasts roles with Glenn Close and Amy Adams in roles for which they could possibly (and eventually) win an Oscar, the film has not impressed the critics.
Seeing the film Hillbilly Elegy dragged to hell and back gives me strength today.
– Kim Kelly (@GrimKim) November 10, 2020
David Ehlrich of IndieWire wrote: “It will not cause controversy, inflame the minimal number of thin pieces that the moment demands (most of which will focus on the value of such a bland “purple” film at the height of our red/blue divide) and deserve party favor worthy of awards for the cast. Some will feel seen, others will feel excused if they look closer, and most will feel nothing”. In the end he gave the film a C-.
“Despite all the favors Howard gives to the subject of his biography, the director can only do so much to hide the selfish nature of a story that was less and less about where Vance came from and more about where he wanted to go,” Ehrlich concluded.
Sheri Linden, the Hollywood reporter’s Sheri Linden, said: “Whatever lessons she wants to impart, Hillbilly Elegy does not romanticize her subjects or wrap up their struggles in clean bromide or bread crumbs,” he added: “There are moments that are out of the ordinary or land with the flatness of the cliché, but there are also sharp observations across the gap between city and country.
Clayton Davis of Variety said: “For a story that focuses on the ‘values of the Appalachians’ and the ‘American Dream’, this is likely to be eaten up by a certain 70-million-person demographic with a few select academicians. The rest of the entertainment audience, however, Hillbilly Elegy, “looks like a failure to read the room to give another example of how ‘all life matters’ and that there are ‘very good people on both sides'”.
Alissa Wilkinson of Vox wrote that it is “possibly the worst film” she has seen in years. “[A] rich person’s idea of what it’s like to be a poor person, a deaf-mute attempt to alleviate a particular kind of liberal guilt by reifying exactly what caused the guilt in the first place,” she said.
Whew, guys, the HILLBILLY ELEGY movie is bad, in some ways I expected it to be and in other ways I really didn’t. https://t.co/anbrkOOqcD
– Alissa Wilkinson (@alissamarie) November 10, 2020
Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair called it a “shameless Oscar bait”. “Hillbilly Elegy is both a witless cosplay and a failure to challenge one of the book’s controversial insinuations,” Lawson wrote.
Independent film critic Clarisse Loughrey said she was “not looking forward to the discourse surrounding this film.
HILLBILLY ELEGY is irreparably bad & has made me very angry. I am not looking forward to the discourse around this film.
– Clarisse Loughrey (@clarisselou) November 10, 2020
Kevin Fallon of The Daily Beast said that the movie “really is that bad”, but Amy Adams was very good as always.
Hillbilly Elegy is really so bad, but I can’t shake the feeling that this will be another Green Paper situation. (FWIW I actually thought Amy Adams was very good, but the sky is blue, grass is green etc.)
– Kevin Fallon (@kpfallon) November 10, 2020
Speaking to Frankie Gilmore, Frankie Gilmore said: “Netflix executives must have read the book and thought that toning down the clearly conservative messages would be a surefire cross-party success. What it became instead is a bloated catastrophe that happens to be one of the cruellest and most thematically bizarre pieces of cinema I have ever seen.
Add: “Hillbilly Elegy will convince viewers that the American dream is alive and well when in reality the film is proof that it is merely a lie we tell ourselves and a way to deceive and shame the poor into believing that s