Hillbilly Elegy (film)

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Hillbilly Elegy
Hillbilly Elegy (film).png
Official release poster
Directed byRon Howard
Produced by
Screenplay byVanessa Taylor
Based onHillbilly Elegy
by J. D. Vance
Starring
Music by
CinematographyMaryse Alberti
Edited byJames D. Wilcox
Production
company
Distributed byNetflix
Release date
  • November 11, 2020 (2020-11-11) (United States)
Running time
115 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$45 million[3]
Box office$38,852[4]

Hillbilly Elegy is a 2020 American drama film directed by Ron Howard, from a screenplay by Vanessa Taylor, based on the 2016 memoir of the same name by J. D. Vance. The film stars Amy Adams, Glenn Close, Gabriel Basso, Haley Bennett, Freida Pinto, Bo Hopkins, and Owen Asztalos, and follows a Yale law student who must return to his family in Ohio after a family emergency.

After buying the rights to Vance's book in 2017, Imagine Entertainment announced Howard as the film's director. Netflix acquired the distribution rights in January 2019, and much of the cast joined that April. Filming took place from June through August in Georgia and Ohio.

Hillbilly Elegy was released in select theaters in the United States on November 11, 2020, then digitally on Netflix on November 24. The film was negatively received by critics;[5] it was criticized for its screenplay and storytelling, though the performances of the cast received some praise.

Plot[edit]

The film opens in Jackson, Kentucky in 1997. J.D. is looking back to this time, his teenage years. He is visiting his family with his grandparents and Mom, Bev. They go back home to Ohio.

Fourteen years later, J.D. is attending Yale and working three jobs. He is dating a young woman, Usha. She has a summer internship in Washington D.C. and J.D. hopes to get one there as well. He attends an event to network in hopes of landing the internship. He gets a call from his sister, Lindsay because his mom is in the hospital after overdosing on heroin. Lindsay is overwhelmed by the situation as she works and has three children. She asks J.D. to come home, which he feels conflicted about as it is interview week at Yale.

He remembers growing up and conflicts he had with his mom, who is mentally and emotionally unstable. He was a fan of Joe Montana and collected his cards. As they are driving, his mom tells him she wants to move them in with her boyfriend. Bev starts driving like she wants to get in a wreck and then beats J.D. He runs out of the car to a house and calls the police who come and arrest Bev.

Back in 2011 J.D. starts to drive to Ohio. In 1997 his grandparents come to pick him up as J.D. lies to the police about his mom hitting him and they let her go. In 2011 he arrives at the hospital as his mom is yelling at the nurse. She will be discharged because she has no health insurance. J.D. is called and offered an interview for the following morning.

In 1997 his grandfather dies and the family has a funeral. Bev works as a nurse and steals drugs. She gets high, acts erratic, gets fired and later breaks down over her father's death. In 2011, J.D. and Lindsey find Bev a bed at a drug rehabilitation facility and J.D. remembers how it's never worked for her in the past. J.D. pays for her rehab but Bev ultimately refuses to be admitted.

In 1997 J.D., Lindsey, and Bev move into her boss's and new husband, Ken's house. Bev won't quit taking drugs. J.D.'s grandmother falls and is hospitalized with pneumonia. He starts vandalizing and acting out with his new step-brother, Travis and his friends. They wreck a car. In 2011 Bev's boyfriend throws her stuff out of his apartment. In 1997 J.D.'s grandmother takes him to live with her and helps him to avoid trouble and succeed in school.

He grows up, joins the Marines, goes home when his grandmother dies, and uses the G.I. Bill to go to college. In 2011 J.D. gets his mom a motel room and some food and drives back to Yale for his interview.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Imagine Entertainment won the rights to the memoir in an April 2017 auction, for Ron Howard to direct.[6] In February 2018, Vanessa Taylor was set to adapt the novel into a screenplay.[7] In March 2018, Ron Howard was spotted at the Buckingham Coal Mine near Corning, Ohio, scouting possible locations in Perry County.[8] In October 2018 and March 2019, Howard was spotted in Middletown, Ohio, again scouting filming locations.[9][10]

In January 2019, Netflix won the rights to the film after bidding $45 million on the project.[11] Glenn Close, Amy Adams, Gabriel Basso and Haley Bennett joined the cast in April.[12][13][14][15] In June 2019, Freida Pinto, Bo Hopkins and Owen Asztalos were also added.[16]

Principal photography began on June 12, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia,[17] and wrapped on August 8, 2019 in Middletown, Ohio, after a 43-day shooting schedule. Several days of filming took place in the book's setting of Middletown, Ohio,[18] though much of the filming was done in Atlanta, Clayton, and Macon, Georgia, using the production code-name "IVAN."[19][20] Hans Zimmer and David Fleming composed the film's music.[21]

By January 2020, the film was in post-production.[22]

Release[edit]

Hillbilly Elegy began a limited theatrical release in the United States on November 11, 2020, before streaming on Netflix starting November 24.[23]

It was the most-watched film on the site in its first day of release, before finishing third in its debut weekend.[24] Over its second weekend the film fell to eighth place.[25]

Reception[edit]

Critical response to Hillbilly Elegy was "fairly negative", but the performances of its cast received some praise.[5][26] On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 27% of 233 critics positively reviewed the film, with an average rating of 4.60/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "With the form of an awards-season hopeful but the soul of a bland melodrama, Hillbilly Elegy strands some very fine actors in the not-so-deep South."[27] According to Metacritic, which calculated a weighted average score of 38 out of 100 based on 43 critics, the film received "generally unfavorable reviews".[28]

The Independent reported that the film was widely criticized for "perpetuating stereotypes about the poor".[29] Katie Rife of the The A.V. Club called it a "bootstrapping poverty porn" and said that it "reinforces the stereotypes it's meant to be illuminating."[30]

Owen Gleiberman of Variety wrote, "As long as Close is acting up an award-worthy storm (her performance is actually quite meticulous), Hillbilly Elegy is never less than alive. Amy Adams does some showpiece acting of her own, but as skillful as her performance is, she never gets us to look at Bev with pity and terror."[31] Writing for IndieWire, David Ehrlich gave the film a "C–" and said, "Hillbilly Elegy hinges on Mamaw's hope that she'll leave her family better off than she found them, and it's clear that Vance's story has fulfilled that wish almost as soon as this movie starts. But the process of watching him cut his losses and recommit to his own success is rendered in a way that it isn't just dramatically unsatisfying in the extreme, but also on the verge of sociopathic."[32]

Peter Travers from Good Morning America thought the film was a "missed opportunity" but Close's performance was "sensational". He concluded, "With greater emphasis on simplicity instead of Hollywood showboating, Hillbilly Elegy might have been more than a missed opportunity."[33] In her positive review, Sandra Hall from The Sydney Morning Herald praised Howard's "high-end brand of commercial movie-making" and opined that he's "to be applauded just for inviting Close, with her wealth of imagination and technique, to give us everything she has."[34]

Rahul Desai of Film Companion wrote, "The film is shameless Oscar-bait. But as with most recent Ron Howard movies, he has a way of making bad movies feel good."[35]

Accolades[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient(s) Result
2020 San Francisco International Film Festival Awards[36] Award for Acting Glenn Close Won

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Hans Zimmer to Reteam with Ron Howard on 'Hillbilly Elegy' | Film Music Reporter". Film Music Reporter. March 10, 2020. Archived from the original on June 11, 2020. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  2. ^ "Hillbilly Elegy - Netflix". Netflix. Archived from the original on September 30, 2020. Retrieved October 10, 2020.
  3. ^ Ed Richter (November 7, 2020). "J.D. Vance on watching Middletown filming of his 'Hillbilly Elegy' book: 'It's pretty surreal'". Journal-News. Archived from the original on October 16, 2020. Retrieved August 16, 2020.
  4. ^ "Hillbilly Elegy (2020) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Archived from the original on December 25, 2020. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  5. ^ a b Bui, Hoai-Tran (November 10, 2020). "'Hillbilly Elegy' Review Round-Up: Ron Howard's Shameless Oscar Bait Drama is Very, Very Bad". Slash Film. Archived from the original on November 12, 2020. Retrieved November 16, 2020.
  6. ^ Fleming, Mike, Jr. (April 10, 2017). "Imagine Lands J.D. Vance's Rust Belt Memoir 'Hillbilly Elegy;' Ron Howard To Direct Film". Archived from the original on July 24, 2020. Retrieved April 18, 2020.
  7. ^ Fleming, Mike, Jr. (February 28, 2018). "Oscar-Nominated 'Shape Of Water' Co-Writer Vanessa Taylor Set To Adapt 'Hillbilly Elegy'". Archived from the original on January 3, 2020. Retrieved April 18, 2020.
  8. ^ "Opie sighting in Perry County". Archived from the original on October 19, 2020. Retrieved October 15, 2020.
  9. ^ Kiesewetter, John. "Ron Howard Scouts Middletown For 'Hillbilly Elegy' Movie". www.wvxu.org. Archived from the original on June 11, 2020. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  10. ^ "Ron Howard is back in Middletown, the setting of upcoming 'Hillbilly Elegy' adaptation". WCPO. March 25, 2019. Archived from the original on March 27, 2019. Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  11. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (January 25, 2019). "Netflix Swoops On Ron Howard's Film Version Of 'Hillbilly Elegy' in Whopping $45M Deal". Archived from the original on January 26, 2019. Retrieved January 25, 2019.
  12. ^ Kroll, Justin (April 4, 2019). "Amy Adams to Star in Ron Howard's 'Hillbilly Elegy' at Netflix (EXCLUSIVE)". Archived from the original on April 4, 2019. Retrieved April 4, 2019.
  13. ^ "Glenn Close Joins Amy Adams in Ron Howard's 'Hillbilly Elegy'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on April 11, 2019. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  14. ^ Fleming, Mike, Jr. (April 12, 2019). "Gabriel Basso Set As Lead Of 'Hillbilly Elegy' Opposite Amy Adams, Glenn Close". Archived from the original on April 12, 2019. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  15. ^ Kroll, Justin (April 26, 2019). "Haley Bennett in Talks to Join Amy Adams in Ron Howard's 'Hillbilly Elegy' (EXCLUSIVE)". Archived from the original on April 26, 2019. Retrieved April 26, 2019.
  16. ^ Kroll, Justin (June 14, 2019). "Freida Pinto Rounds Out Cast of Ron Howard and Netflix's 'Hillbilly Elegy' (EXCLUSIVE)". Archived from the original on June 15, 2019. Retrieved June 14, 2019.
  17. ^ "Netflix Drama 'Hillbilly Elegy' Starring Amy Adams and Directed By 'Solo's Ron Howard Adds 'New Mu". May 17, 2019. Archived from the original on May 17, 2019. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
  18. ^ Kiesewetter, John (June 3, 2019). "Glenn Close, Amy Adams, Visit Middletown For 'Hillbilly Elegy' Meeting". WVXU Cincinnati Public Radio. Archived from the original on June 7, 2019.
  19. ^ Walljasper, Matt (June 27, 2019). "What's filming in Atlanta now? Lovecraft Country, The Conjuring 3, Waldo, Hillbilly Elegy, and more". Atlanta Magazine. Archived from the original on June 28, 2019. Retrieved July 5, 2019.
  20. ^ Chandler, Tom (July 3, 2019). "Netflix to begin filming movie 'Ivan' in Macon". The Georgia Sun. Archived from the original on July 5, 2019. Retrieved July 5, 2019.
  21. ^ "Hans Zimmer to Reteam with Ron Howard on Hillbilly Elegy". FilmMusicReporter. March 10, 2020. Archived from the original on June 11, 2020. Retrieved March 11, 2020.
  22. ^ Foutch, Haleigh (January 30, 2020). "Ron Howard Teases What to Expect from His "Powerful" Netflix Movie 'Hillbilly Elegy'". Collider. Archived from the original on April 10, 2020. Retrieved April 10, 2020.
  23. ^ Davis, Edward (October 14, 2020). "Hillbilly Elegy' Trailer: Amy Adams Turns Redneck For Director Ron Howard". The Playlist. Archived from the original on October 17, 2020. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
  24. ^ Brueggemann, Tom (November 30, 2020). "'Let Him Go' Thrives as Early PVOD Release While 'New Mutants' Still Strong". IndieWire. Archived from the original on December 1, 2020. Retrieved December 1, 2020.
  25. ^ Brueggemann, Tom (December 7, 2020). "'Freaky' Debuts Well in Holiday Home Viewing, but 'Mank' Falls Short on Netflix". IndieWire. Archived from the original on December 8, 2020. Retrieved December 7, 2020.
  26. ^ Rawat, Kshitij (November 12, 2020). "Hillbilly Elegy review roundup: Critics pan Glenn Close and Amy Adams-starrer". The Indian Express. Archived from the original on November 18, 2020. Retrieved November 16, 2020.
  27. ^ "Hillbilly Elegy (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on November 27, 2020. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  28. ^ "Hillbilly Elegy Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on December 26, 2020. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  29. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 29, 2020. Retrieved November 29, 2020.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  30. ^ Rife, Katie (September 10, 2020). ""May Hillbilly Elegy mark the end of Trump-era myth-making about the white working class"". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on November 10, 2020. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  31. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (November 10, 2020). "'Hillbilly Elegy' Review: Amy Adams and Glenn Close Act with Down-Home Flamboyance in Ron Howard's Otherwise Overly Safe Adaptation". Variety. Archived from the original on November 10, 2020. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  32. ^ Ehrlich, David (November 10, 2020). "'Hillbilly Elegy' Review: Ron Howard Adapts J.D. Vance's Controversial Memoir into a Forgettable Netflix Biopic". IndieWire. Archived from the original on November 10, 2020. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  33. ^ America, Good Morning. "Review: 'Hillbilly Elegy' is a 'missed opportunity'; Glenn Close is 'sensational'". Good Morning America. Archived from the original on November 23, 2020. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
  34. ^ Hall, Sandra (November 18, 2020). "Is Hillbilly Elegy poverty porn or a masterclass by Ron Howard?". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on November 24, 2020. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
  35. ^ Desai, Rahul (November 24, 2020). "Hillbilly Elegy Review". Film Companion. Archived from the original on December 4, 2020. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
  36. ^ "SFFILM Awards Night to Honor Glenn Close and Stars of 'One Night in Miami' (Exclusive) | Hollywood Reporter". www.hollywoodreporter.com. Archived from the original on December 25, 2020. Retrieved December 14, 2020.

External links[edit]