During the fall and winter seasons, we expect to see traction from critically acclaimed films landing them some Oscar buzz. Films like “Nomadland,” “One Night in Miami,” “Trial of Chicago 7” and “Mank” have garnered critical acclaim and Oscar buzz for their outstanding efforts.
However, with every thought-provoking masterpiece comes a corny, messy and misguided film to butter up the Academy Award voters. In 2018 it was “Green Book,” and in 2019 it was “Ford v Ferrari.” Critically-praised filmmaker Ron Howard’s latest “Hillbilly Elegy” will surely be this year’s choice. The film stars Amy Adams and Glenn Close as parents and grandparents in the South. The story is told from the perspective of J.D. Vance (Gabriel Basso), as he attempts to help his mother Bev (Adams) through her heroin addiction. The film is a true story, adapted from the real Vance’s 2016 memoir of the same name.
Personally, I have mixed opinions on Howard as a filmmaker. For every cutting-edge biography comes a bland and uninteresting drama. I did have some hope for this film because of my appreciation for Adams, who proves she is too good for the Academy Awards to earn herself six Oscar nominations.
Unfortunately, not even the star power of the leads can save this trainwreck of a film. Howard manages to make not only the worst film of his career, but the worst film of the year. This film tries to pull the heartstrings of viewers with its themes of substance abuse, loss, nostalgia and family, but it makes out as more of a comedy.
The acting here by Adams and Close are laughable. Both bring over the top and over-dramatic performances where, at times, I could not help but belly laugh at their line delivery. The script is all over the place; you can never find any emotion or dimension within these characters outside the redneck stereotype. The film is shot in a bland way…classic Howard. The editing is nothing special either; some scenes feel out of place and moments are shifted from the past to the present with the transitions coming out of left field.
Hillbilly Elegy is an offensive, corny and messy film from beginning to end. With the worst career performances from everyone involved, you wonder why and how these actors signed up for this project. This film is only watchable to witness the comically-disguised dramatic moments. Ron Howard, you’re better than this.