'Hillbilly Elegy': Sink or Stream?

Is this drug addiction nightmare a story that should sink, or is it a powerful American dream story that deserves a stream?

Jesse Conner

By Jesse Conner

Hillbilly Elegy
Hillbilly Elegy Poster

Hillbilly Elegy



November 11, 2020

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In such a large world, people come from all different walks of life. Everyone has a story, and this week we're looking at Netflix's "Hillbilly Elegy" to decide whether theirs is worth watching.

Based on the 2016 memoir "Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis," the film brings us into the lives of 3 different generations of a family dealing with various issues like addiction, classism, and growing up in general.

Sink or stream this cinematic account of J. D. Vance's memoir? We're here to let you know.

Reasons to Sink

© Netflix

© Netflix

Comparing this film to the memoir that it's based on, it seems to miss the mark, acting more as a surface-only overview, compared to the complex, much more controversial, memoir.

For a movie based on an original story, it's been polished up so much that it feels more like a soap opera.

There are a lot of different themes and issues presented in the film that aren't ever really addressed, making it hard to understand what message this film is trying to communicate.

Reasons to Stream

© Netflix

© Netflix

Glenn Close and Amy Adams as grandmother and drug-addicted mother to newcomer Gabriel Basso is a very interesting, and at times emotional, dynamic.

People who have had similar hardships with their upbringing may find this to be an inspiring and relatable story.

While there's not too much physical action in this dramatic film, there are still many captivating moments that will pull at your heartstrings.

Sink or Stream?

After looking at the story of "Hillbilly Elegy," and considering all the other worthy viewing options out there, we're letting this one sink.

When making a film based off of something real, it's important to preserve the authenticity of the story, while also making it appeal to a larger audience.

It seems as though Ron Howard's priority was the latter, and for a roughly 2-hour film, we're surprised there wasn't a more of an in-depth dive into classism which is a major theme in the film, as well as a more genuine look at addiction.

It's not the greatest film of this or any year, but if you're still intrigued, it's available to stream on Netflix.

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Jesse Conner

Jesse is a writer and content manager for Noovie. When he's not working, he's on the beach playing volleyball.

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