The story Ron Howard wants to tell is less tricky. Using a redundant script by Vanessa Taylor, he has turned Vance’s book into a family melodrama without political complications, ambivalent nuances, or characters that clearly reflect the most harmful aspects of ultra-conservative ideology. It’s just the story of a special boy and the complicated family that almost sinks him, but that ultimately made him who he is.
It’s just the story of a special boy and the complicated family that almost sinks him, but who made him who he is
The latter should not be wrong either. But Hillbilly, a country elegy is bad enough. Howard can be a good storyteller and here he is right, sometimes, when it comes to mixing the different times in which the story unfolds: childhood, adolescence and university youth of JD, embodied in this last period by a notable Gabriel Basso, the link lost between Vincent D’Onofrio and Chris Pratt. But overall, this time Howard is wrong: he tackles every emotional twist with the subtlety of a jackhammer and reduces the characters to inadvertent parodies. What is supposed to be conceived as a tribute (sincere or not) to the great forgotten of America is quite condescending (conscious or not).
I wish I could say that Amy Adams does another job for the legend, but JD’s heroin mom won’t be remembered as one of her best roles, although when she swaps screaming (or runaway skating) for the glare of a gaze she can still shine. . Nor does Glenn Close, who plays the gruff-but-inspiring grandmother, deserve an Oscar nomination – let’s stop rewarding actors just for agreeing to spend a couple of extra hours in the makeup room. And no, Hans Zimmer doesn’t show his best side on the score either; he just says when to cry.