Parents' Guide to

Hillbilly Elegy

By Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Language, violence, drugs in uneven bestseller adaptation.

Movie R 2020 116 minutes
Hillbilly Elegy Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 13+

beautiful and touching movie

I believe everyone should see this movie. It includes themes of drug use , family dynamics, socioeconomic struggles. Anyone above age 13 can watch the movie. It includes some triggering topics as suicide, getting high, physical/verbal violence in the family, but is not that bad that a teen cannot see. I highly recommend this movie, it has a message about making good decisions despite coming from a bad background
age 16+

Must see to understand poverty

This movie needs to be watched by educators! It shows what students go thru to survive everyday life in poverty!

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (2 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

Fans of JD Vance's best-selling memoir, Hillbilly Elegy, will appreciate how the film adaptation has brought some scenes and relationships from memorable page to screen. The verdant hill country of poor, white Kentucky; a fancy Yale dinner with a confusing array of cutlery; the vicious cycles of poverty, addiction, and abuse that are so difficult to break out of. As the end credits confirm with photos of Vance's real family, the filmmakers also did a remarkable job styling the actors to look like the real people they're portraying. Close is nearly unrecognizable as Mamaw and fully embodies the character.

But none of this will matter as much to newcomers to Vance's tale, and the movie doesn't construct as compelling a life story as the source material did. Rather than telling Vance's tale chronologically, the script aims to draw parallels between turning points and key events in two key years of life, intermittently employing a voiceover for clarity. The parallels aren't particularly subtle, and chunks of Vance's life between high school and law school have basically been skipped over. A tunnel metaphor employed whenever characters enter or leave their decaying Ohio town feels a bit obvious. The film's final scenes carry implicit messages about success that may or may not resonate with viewers' own experiences.

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