Matt’s review published on Letterboxd:
So if you didn’t enjoy this movie that is more than fine, but I’m honestly baffled why it is being received as poorly as it is.
Let me start by saying I’m from Ohio, about 30 minutes from where this story takes place. I can not believe how relatable this movie truly is. This is spot-on and 100% truthful to the problems that are devastating my home state, and my immediate family. And it depicts addiction, broken homes, domestic abuse and the struggle to pursue a better life while still being there for those you love so viscerally. Like, this is real. I’m telling everyone first hand this is EXACTLY what it’s like in rural Ohio. This is EXACTLY what it’s like for decent people who are sick (and their families). I’ve lived though almost every single aspect of this movie and it’s devastating to me how many people can relate to this film.
And I don’t think this movie is saying “if they don’t wanna be poor, maybe they should do something about it” or some stupid boot-strap bull shit. What it is trying to say is that nobody gives a damn about poor people, or people with addiction problems, and that so many people like JD have to go above and beyond just to even have a chance. The film is not saying that’s the way society should ideally function, but it’s showing the bitter truth that the underprivileged will always have to work 10x harder just to have a chance at a decent life. That is not a political stance in any capacity. It’s a sad reflection of our country.
I can’t even count how many people I know that I saw in Amy Adams character. Her performance may seem silly or over the top, but in my opinion, (hot take) it is hands down the best performance I’ve seen all year. She completely disappeared into the role. Me and my fiancé watched this movie together and she balled her eyes out the entire time, and I was holding back tears. That character is everywhere. I live next to that character. I work with that character. I see that character at family reunions. I’ve gone to far too many funerals of that character. I don’t mean to get overly sentimental I just really ask that when people watch this movie they don’t scoff at it but rather try and understand that this is completely realistic.
I know it’s called “Hillbilly Elegy” which is kind of silly and there are lines like “they’re hill-people, they respect the dead” which make me laugh but I would be lying if I said that’s not precisely how it’s like where I’m from. And yeah, I can admit it’s far from a perfect movie. I thought it was a bit slow at times. I don’t think Hanz Zimmer’s score worked as well with this film as it does in the other films he’s worked on. And yeah maybe the other characters in this film are a bit 1-dimensional. Like I said, it’s not perfect.
This isn’t a new favorite or anything like that, but I respect the hell out of this movie. Any film that attempts to provide insight into the life and trials of poor, working class people will almost always garner my respect.