måndag 25 januari 2021

Hillbilly Elegy

Drug addiction can be one hell of a mess. I have not used heavy drugs myself, but i lost one good friend in an overdose, and his brother had a brain damage from an overdose. I will not mention their names right now, in respect to the family, but i can tell you how it was, to see someone that i knew since i was a baby, to become a drug addict. I always thought that these 2 brothers would do great, get a job that they enjoy, and find a great partner. I knew they tried drugs, and i had no problem with that, as i told them as long as they keep it in control. And for a while things did look good, until i got a phone call in early 2000´s. One of the brothers had overdosed on drugs, and i remember going to the hospital, seeing him lying there. It is not often i cry, but that really affected me emotionally. He survived thankfully, but the overdose damaged his brain, and he would never be the same friend that i used to know. I visited him and spent time with him, even if i knew he was a different person. To see the damage that the drugs did to my friend, was heart breaking. He was off drugs, thanks to his fantastic girlfriend, who made sure he stayed clean. So she helped him in his ordinary day life as well, making it as normal as possible. And as i moved to a different city ( where i live now ), i got a call a couple years later, from my mother. She was completely torn apart, telling me that the other brother of my friends died in an overdose. I still remember that call, all of me went ice cold, and i did not know what to say, just feeling the tears flooding down. I found out later what happened, and how he overdosed. It did not really matter, what i feel matter is that i have all the good memories we had with each other. When it comes to films that brings up addiction, i have a favourite film that is actually an independent film. It is a film called Sherrybaby, and is directed by Laurie Collyier. This film tells the story of Sherry ( brilliant played by actress Maggie Gyllenhaal ) who is released from prison, recovering from a heroin addiction. She plans to start a new life, and most of all repair her relationship with her daughter. A very emotional drama film, where you can clearly see the real life of a drug addict. A must see if you have not seen this film. I have heard for a while about the Netflix film called Hillbilly Elegy, that have been getting very mixed reviews. A film about a struggling family, sounds like something for me, based on a book with the same title ( that i have not read, unfortunately. ) Is this a must see on Netflix, or is Hillbilly Elegy as bad as some critics say?

The year is 2011, and young man J.D. Vance ( Gabriel Basso ) is attending Yale University, while he is working three jobs. He is also dating a young woman, named Usha ( Freida Pinto ). She has a summer internship in Washington D.C. and J.D. hopes to get one there as well. He attends an event to network in hopes of landing the internship. J.D. gets a call from his sister Lindsay ( Haley Bennet ), who tells him that their mother Bev ( Amy Adams ) is in the hospital, after an overdose of heroin. Lindsay can´t handle this situation, who needs to take care of her three children, and ask J.D. to come home. J.D. feels conflicted about the situation, considering that it is interview week at Yale. But he decides to try and make it back on time, as he travel down to help the family, and especially deal with his mother.

I will be honest and say, i don´t think this is a bad movie, and i will explain why. Even if this film does not dig deep into one certain character, this film is trying to tell the story from a family´s experience ( since this is based on a true story ). And that is actually a good idea, because when you are dealing with addiction in a family, you know that this will affect the whole family, and not only the one who is having problems with drugs. And this film manage to portrait this through the eyes of a family, and not just from one person´s experience. When ever you know that the story will include some really difficult subjects, you know it might be emotional. I will say this, there are some scenes that actually do hit the right mark, where you feel the tensions in the family. I would have liked some more raw scenes of the addiction of the character known as Beverly, since i prefer seeing a realistic portrait of an addict. And even if we do get to see her struggling with herself, we don´t get to see the really dark moments ( except for a motel scene, that´s actually realistic ). When it comes to films with drug addiction, i always feel that you should show the dark reality, as brutal as it is. We have to talk about the characters for a bit. Actress Amy Adams who plays the heroin addict Beverly "Bev" Vance, gives us a solid performance of a mother who lost control of her addiction. Amy manage to capture the behavior of an addict, that i am sure many people would recognize in family members, or someone that they know. One of the best acting performances in this film comes without a doubt from legendary actress Glenn Close, who plays Bonnie "Mamaw" Vance, Bev´s mother. You get the feeling that she is one of the biggest reasons why especially young J.D. ( played great by young actor Owen Aszatalos ) can focus on school and get an education, while his mother can´t handle her life. Grown up J.D., played by actor Gabriel Basso, also deliver a solid performance.Outside of the drug addiction, Hillbilly Elegy also manage to show the importance of not being embarrased by your family background, coming from a poor family. This film also show the importance of having a family that help each other, in hard times. Legendary director Ron Howard ( director of classics such as Cocoon and Willow ) tell a story that a lot of people can relate to, and i think he have done a good job, especially with the characters. I only wish this film could have been more darker, but other than that, i can recommend Hillbilly Elegy for you who are interested in films that take on the problems of drug addictions, and family issues as well.

Rating: DDD

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