Hillbilly Elegy

Director: Ron Howard
Year Released: 2020
Rating: 1.5

While studying law at Yale after getting out of the Marines and serving overseas, J.D. Vance (Gabriel Basso as an adult, Owen Asztalos as a kid) has an endless stream of flashbacks about his life with his strong grandmother Mamaw (Glenn Close), his junkie mother Bev (Amy Adams) and loyal sis Lindsay (Haley Bennett).  Howard's a populist, not a sociologist, so the "hillbilly" part of the title only gets a cursory glance (to him, it means oversized people driving pick-up trucks and presumably votin' Red) and the movie largely exists as an actorly showcase for Close and Adams, the latter constantly spinning out of control, screaming in the streets, driving recklessly and bedhopping from man to man (when not shooting heroin in the bathroom) while the former chain smokes and offers tough love.  In the end, the Vance character almost becomes a secondary character - a witness to and victim of mental-illness and addiction - but it's nice to know he could channel pain into a successful career: there's the ol' Howard positive spin for you.