Netflix has released the first trailer for Ron Howard’s new film Hillbilly Elegy. The multi-generational addiction drama stars Amy Adams and Glenn Close, a pairing alone that should make the movie a highly anticipated feature — but instead, it’s already been met with a mixed reaction on social media.
Hillbilly Elegy follows Gabriel Basso, a former Marine and current Yale Law student, as he returns to his Appalachian home in southern Ohio to take care of his mother Bev, as played by Adams, who’s struggling with addiction. During the trip, he’s forced to reckon with his childhood, his upbringing, and his troubled family, including his terse grandmother, played by Close. Both Hans Zimmer and David Fleming contribute to the score.
The trailer sees Adams and Close bringing this plot to life in worn-down clothing, strung-out makeup, and all sorts of bleak visuals meant to invoke both sympathy and scorn for the lower-class area. Considering the two actresses have racked up 13 Oscar nominations combined, some are speculating this new movie could finally earn them a belated win.
The plot sounds inoffensive enough when summarized, but the problem is where it stems from. Hillbilly Elegy is an adaptation of J.D. Vance’s incredibly popular 2016 memoir of the same name. Vaance, a venture capitalist and proud Republican, was heavily criticized by readers and critics alike for his inaccurate depiction of rural residents in the Appalachians, particularly for applying his personal experience to everyone around him, failing to acknowledge the region’s cultural diversity, and applying ruthless tropes and negative stereotypes with reckless abandon.
So unsurprisingly, the trailer has received mixed reaction on social media. “Hillbilly Elegy is Right Wing propaganda that actively promotes Reaganomics, the poor as deserving of their suffering, and intentionally obscures racism and white supremacy as major factors in America’s decline,” wrote author Jared Yates Sekton.
“If you didn’t read Hillbilly Elegy like I did in 2016,” tweeted comedian Julia Claire, “it’s a book about a guy who grows up poor in the Rust Belt and becomes successful but chooses to learn nothing in the process.”
Meanwhile, Defector Media co-founder David Roth mocked the film for having “That Netflix Look,” which he described as “a cinematic style that effortlessly delivers the experience of wandering aimlessly through the set on a weekday morning and catching the cast standing around eating baby carrots from craft services.”
See the trailer for yourself below, and indulge in some Twitter reactions after the jump. It’s set to premiere on Netflix on November 24th.
Hillbilly Elegy is poverty porn for venture capitalists.https://t.co/QkbF0ygyKT
— Haymarket Books (@haymarketbooks) October 14, 2020
Hillbilly Elegy is Right Wing propaganda that actively promotes Reaganomics, the poor as deserving of their suffering, and intentionally obscures racism and white supremacy as major factors in America’s decline. https://t.co/dGYsC7DScH
— Jared Yates Sexton (@JYSexton) October 14, 2020
For what it’s worth, most of us who grew up in rural poverty recognize Hillbilly Elegy as a destructive and bad-faith propaganda piece that was championed by people who had no idea what they were talking about and were hopelessly lost in their own privilege.
— Jared Yates Sexton (@JYSexton) October 14, 2020
didn't think I'd connect to the hillbilly elegy movie but my god they nailed it pic.twitter.com/XFnij1ibpu
— elizabeth catte (@elizabethcatte) October 14, 2020
If you didn't read Hillbilly Elegy like I did in 2016 it's a book about a guy who grows up poor in the Rust Belt and becomes successful but chooses to learn nothing in the process
— Julia Claire (@ohJuliatweets) October 14, 2020
Movies I'd rather watch about WV than Hillbilly Elegy:
-Flatwoods Monster-themed sequel to Mothman Prophecies
-doc on coal-themed dive bars & the ppl who love them
-footage from inside Justice's limo stopping at every Wendy's on the way from the Greenbrier to Charleston
— Spookcretia Booredgia (@KelseyChapstick) October 14, 2020
Very encouraging to see that Hillbilly Elegy has That Netflix Look, a cinematic style that effortlessly delivers the experience of wandering aimlessly through the set on a weekday morning and catching the cast standing around eating baby carrots from craft services.
— David Roth (@david_j_roth) October 14, 2020
Instead of Hillbilly Elegy u can watch Dark Waters, which is also about a man ashamed of his upbringing but instead of wallowing in contempt he risks his hard-won prosperity to defend his old community from literally being poisoned by their owners. Also has an actual director.
— Jake Cole (@ThatJakePC) October 14, 2020
J.D Vance, the author of Hillbilly Elegy, says that it's actually social rot, poor work ethic and a lack of personal responsbility that has eroded away at America's underclass, not economic instability and the government's failure to help the vulnerable. https://t.co/hJ3EBQgMtN
— the warehouse guy 🎃 (spooky) (@LicensedT0Ill) October 14, 2020
olivia colman stans after watching the hillbilly elegy trailer: pic.twitter.com/TJrnl1G5SN
— vulnicura 🐇 kate's bush (@oliviascolmans) October 14, 2020
Oh god, Hillbilly Elegy looks awful. Watch it fucking sweep the Oscars.
— Kayleigh Donaldson (@Ceilidhann) October 14, 2020