Netflix’s Hillbilly Elegy provides insight into personal responsibility

HILLBILLY ELEGY: (L to R) Glenn Close ("Mamaw”), Amy Adams (“Bev”). Photo Cr. Lacey Terrell/NETFLIX © 2020
HILLBILLY ELEGY: (L to R) Glenn Close ("Mamaw”), Amy Adams (“Bev”). Photo Cr. Lacey Terrell/NETFLIX © 2020 /

Hillbilly Elegy is the next must-watch Netflix movie

Hillbilly Elegy follows J.D Vance, a young boy who is trying to find his way in the world in Appalachia. The Netflix movie goes back and forth between his time as a young boy with an abusive mother and his adult life after being in the Marines and during his time at Yale law school. The story shows a vastly different view on poor America while showing the social and familial issues plaguing drug-addicted America.

Ron Howard’s mark is definitely on the film. Howard does a great job at developing characters and getting you emotionally invested as the story develops. This movie is no different.

The story starts in 1993 when Vance is about 12 and is getting beat up by some bullies near a river. He returns home to his mother, Bev, who’s played by Amy Adams, who laughs it off. It’s obvious from the get-go that Bev, and her mother, known by her nickname as “Mawmaw,” played by Glenn Close, have a history and aren’t very close as mother and daughter. They both laugh off the bloody nose J.D received and tell him to brush it off. That sets the tone for the movie.

The film is surrounded by “tough love” some parents promote in their kids’ life; the idea that coddling your child will make them weak—Vances pride themselves in being tough, self-supporting, and rolling with the punches. During the film, we learn Mawmaw and her husband Papaw, played by Bo Hopkins, dropped everything to move from rural Kentucky to Ohio for manufacturing jobs during wartime America.

However, the main character is J.D Vance. Gabriel Basso play the role of Vance and does a fantastic job showing the stress of going to law school and dealing with a drug-addicted mother who relapsed about a thousand miles away. Vance gets a call that his mother has relapsed, and he needs to come to his home to help take care of his mother. While he’s made a life for himself, his family has been back in Ohio. His sister, Lindsay, played by Haley Bennett, has been trying to help her mother by can’t due to her own family.

J.D goes down and does everything he can to help his mother, who is reluctant at best. During this time he’s gone, it’s interview week at Yale, a week that students are interviewed at large law firms for competitive jobs in the industry at prestigious law firms.

In the end, the acting performance was some of the best I’ve seen in a long time—the movie tugs on the heartstrings of poor, white America ravaged by the opioid epidemic. Hillbilly Elegy also portrays a view of strength as, despite all the odds, J.D Vance is a successful layer in Ohio today. The movie’s main theme is personal responsibility, taking your life into your own hands.

Hillbilly Elegy is a great film that’s worth the watch on Netflix. You won’t be disappointed.

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