HILLBILLY ELEGY, the new film based on the popular yet controversial memoir by J.D. Vance isn’t quite the monstrous piece of garbage that many reviewers would have you believe it is. It also isn’t the wonderful piece of Americana that some of the more conservative pundits decry it is either. It’s so wholly unremarkable that it just doesn’t warrant a strong opinion either way. Having a story of Appalachia folks told in a large budget film by well-known multi-millionaire Hollywood types feels completely mismatched, and while Amy Adams and Glen Close are fantastic as always, they add to the incongruity I felt for most of the film.
The score from Hans Zimmer and David Fleming is a highlight, although not up to par with other works by either composer. Perhaps a story from a more indie creative team would have worked better here, but I’m also at a loss as to why this story matters. Because you see, J.D. Vance is also quite unremarkable, and the entire thing makes you wonder why this movie ever needed to be made. The type of epilogue used in the film, when used in non-fiction pieces, feels like it should be reserved only for heroes and heroines, not an average guy who happened to sell a lot of just one book.
Since watching the film, I’ve flipped between recommending it or not, and have concluded it’s just not for me. Maybe I’m not the target demographic, and that’s okay, but it doesn’t excuse a movie that’s just not very good either.
HILLBILLY ELEGY is now streaming on Netflix.