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Hillbilly Elegy - A Netflix Movie Review

by Marielle Sabbag 3 days ago in review

While 'Hillbilly Elegy' is a profound and heartwrenching film, it lacks originality.

Hillbilly Elegy - A Netflix Movie Review

Family is family. No matter what hardships you face, never forget a family’s love.

Released to Netflix in 2020, Hillbilly Elegy is a true story about a young man who is in a hard spot. Receiving an urgent call about his mother, J.D. races from Yale back to Ohio. During his stay, he reflects on the hardships that he faced in his childhood. This time also gives him a chance to speculate where his future is going.

Hillbilly Elegy is a film for audiences to be thankful for family. I did not realize that it was based on a true story until the end. While Hillbilly Elegy is a profound and heartwrenching film with tremendous acting talents, it lacks originality and it is too long.

Amy Adams and Glenn Close are unrecognizable. They give performances of a lifetime. I have never seen Adams in a role like this. She has really challenged herself as an actress. Adams was convincing as a woman who has been through turmoil after turmoil. Her emotional performance was spectacular.

Close, especially was memorable. She was intimidating and loving at the same time. She even startled me when she was delivering a scathing speech to her grandson. Her appearance as the real grandmother was so authentic that the real family was taken aback. I hope that Close is looked at for this year’s awards season.

Caught up in several memories, whether happy or sad, Gabriel Basso was great in his portrayal of J.D. But it was Owen Asztalos who steals the show as young J.D. I loved his emotional performance as he witnessed the harrowing events that were very heavy for a child of his age.

Haley Bennett is growing as an actress. A trait that I admired about her performance was how she played herself as an immature teenager and transformed into an adult. And Frieda Pinto was another memorable performance. The relationship between J.D. and Usha is really sweet.

Acting aside, it’s the story that is not the strongest. We have seen these types of stories brought to the screen countless times. Hillbilly Elegy falls on the same track where we’re following the main character in the present and then constantly flashing into memories from the past.

Flashback scenes could have been reduced. We should have spent more time in the present. We know the characters better in flashbacks than in the present. Although it already correlated its point, the film continues to go on showcasing more grueling flashbacks.

One aspect of the film that Ron Howard did a noteworthy job in was the camera angles. Because we’re witnessing this story from young J.D’s perspective, Howard made wise decisions, making scenes more impactful by filming from the eyes of a child.

And those camera angles follow him into his adult years. Although J.D. has succeeded, he is still unsure about how to perceive a life that he did not grow up in.

Family is family. You cannot change your family. No matter what happens or where your path takes you, you have to decide if you want to be somebody or not. Ron Howard drove that message home. Though, he could have used fewer flashbacks to get the point across.

The film is impactful. It showcases how addictions affect everyone in the family. Howard worked closely with the real family to authenticate the story. We all have our own story. No family is perfect.

The film is sad and hard to watch, but you have to see Hillbilly Elegy for the incredible noteworthy acting. Find it on Netflix.

Marielle Sabbag
Marielle Sabbag
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Marielle Sabbag

Writing has been my passion since I was 11 years old. I love creating stories from fiction, poetry, fanfiction. I enjoy writing movie reviews. I would love to become a creative writing teacher and leave the world inspiring minds.

See all posts by Marielle Sabbag