Movie Review: Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy (2020; never seen before)

Starring: Glenn Close, Amy Adams, Gabriel Brasso

Elegy: a poem of serious reflection, typically a lament for the dead

This is a modern day story about rising above your raising to make a better life for yourself through the decisions you make. I’ve said this before, and the story emphasis this: there has never been a better time in history when someone can go from nothing to being financially stable. Living in North America has given everyone the opportunity to be a better person regardless of their start in life.

Obviously, it’s easier if each generation works towards that goal. My grandparents lived in poverty, but they worked hard, gave their kids what they could, then my parents took the opportunities presented to them (for my father, that was enlisting in the army to fight in the Second World War when he was 17; for my mother, that was leaving her family at 17 and travelling alone from Newfoundland to find work in Halifax).

Hillbilly Elegy is based on a true story. J. D. Vance’s (Brasso) grandparents moved from Kentucky to Ohio to give their daughters a better life. One of those daughters was Vance’s mother. She was a nurse, but she had many issues that anchored her in poor conditions, and she was unable to make a better life for herself because of it.

What really gave Vance the push to escape a lifetime of poverty and abuse was his grandmother. Hats off to Glenn Close for her role as the grandmother and Amy Adams for her portrayal of the mother. Outstanding performances. The transformations were incredible.

I admit, as a Canadian I don’t understand the negative connotations for coming from the hills (Appalachian Mountains). As country folk, we’ve never seen them as anything but good people. Heck, that’s where Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn came from, and you don’t get any finer folk than them. However, I do understand city dwellers, in general, look down on country people. Perhaps that’s where the negativity comes from.

Conclusion: I recommend it. It’s interesting and entertaining. Would I see it again? Probably not. Most modern-day flicks about real life ain’t worth a second watch for me.

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