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Starring: Glenn Close, Amy Adams, Gabriel Basso, Haley Bennett, Freida Pinto, Bo Hopkins, Owen Asztalos
OUR RATING: ★★½
Netflix drama directed by Ron Howard. Hillbilly Elegy (2020) is based on the true story of JD Vance (Gabriel Basso), a Yale Law student who is forced to return to his hometown after a family crisis, and must navigate the complex dynamics of his Appalachian family, including his volatile relationship with his mother, Bev (Amy Adams), who’s struggling with addiction. Fueled by memories of his grandmother, Mamaw (Glenn Close), the resilient and whip-smart woman who raised him, JD comes to embrace his family’s indelible imprint on his own personal journey.
Our Favorite Quotes:'Everyone in this world is one of three kinds. A good Terminator, a bad Terminator, and neutral.' - Mamaw (Hillbilly Elegy) Click To Tweet 'Where we come from is who we are, but we choose every day who we become.' - JD Vance (Hillbilly Elegy) Click To Tweet
JD Vance: When people ask where I’m from, I say Ohio because that’s where I lived most of my life. But that’s only part of my story. Ask me where I feel most at home, that’s the hill country, Jackson, Kentucky. Down those hollers is where I spent every summer. Hands down the best part of my childhood. It’s where my people come from.
Bev: Just get your stuff!
Mamaw: Perch and swivel. I’ll go when I’m ready.
Bev: Real nice, mom.
JD Vance: Things could get tough down in Jackson in a heartbeat, but Mamaw and Papaw taught me that you never start a fight. But if someone starts one with you, you better make damn sure you end it. If you can’t end it, your people will always have your back. And that was our code, and to me, our code was everything.
Young JD: Mamaw, why can’t we stay longer? We’re always the first ones to leave. I don’t get why you ever left Jackson in the first place.
Bev: Because when you’re knocked up at thirteen, you get the hell out of Dodge. That’s why.
JD Vance: When I was a kid, I couldn’t make sense of it. Imagining Mamaw at almost my same age just running, pregnant, from everything she knew, every scrap of family she had. I felt like I’d stumbled onto something. A puzzle piece, an answer to a question I had barely begun to ask about our family and what became of us.
JD Vance: Whatever better life my grandparents had been chasing up Route 23, they never caught it. We were all different in Middletown somehow. I don’t know, like something was missing. Maybe hope.
JD Vance: You couldn’t get to Yale on Route 23, but I’d come closer than any of them to that dream of something better. I could see it right there in front of me. But a part of me knew the road from here to there is rocky. There’s no way around but through.
JD Vance: [referring to his dinner interview] Why are there so many f***ing forks? Usha, what am I supposed to do with all these forks? They had two different kinds of white wine. It’s like a test.
Usha: It is a test.
JD Vance: I’m such an idiot. Why are you with me?
Usha: Well, because you’re not a douchebag, and you don’t know how to use forks.
JD Vance: [after feeling insulted during his dinner interview] My mother was salutatorian of her high school. The smartest person I’ve met. Probably smarter than anyone in this room.
Rich: Maybe so. Well, I didn’t mean any disrespect.
Phillip Roseman: Well, it looks like you failed on that one. Well, it sounds like we should be offering your mother a position.
Bev: [referring to the dog] He just pi**es wherever the hell he wants. Should fit in just fine around here.
Bev: [to Young JD] You think I’d give these losers the time of day? I mean, what do you think that I do it for? So you and Lindsay will have everything that I never had. You have no clue. I was second in my whole class, out of four hundred people. Did you know that? I could have done whatever I wanted. But I didn’t have somebody taking me to the library, and telling me I could go to college, and going to help me pay for it.
Usha: Maybe you could ask a professor to reach out for you. You know, ask for another chance.
JD Vance: What are they going to say? You know, “I know he tanked his interview, but he’s from a f***ed up family. Let’s give him another chance.”
Bev: I worked at this hospital before you had zits.
Nurse: Lower your voice. We have other patients here.
Bev: Oh, welll, there’s a news flash. We’re in a hospital. She’s a genius.
JD Vance: [referring to staying at the hospital] I got us until three.
Bev: [laughs] That’s what your law school negotiating could get us, was till three. Oh, let’s hear it for Yale.
Young JD: [after Papaw death, referring to the townsfolk taking their hats off] Why do they do that, Mamaw?
Mamaw: Because we’re hill people, honey. We respect our dead.
JD Vance: I didn’t know till after he was gone how Papaw had protected my mom from the world. Now the only person who ever got her was gone. Whatever dreams she, or any of us had, they all just seemed that much further away.
Bev: [after getting fired] Well, I was sick of that place anyway.
Lindsay: Gainful employment was cramping her style.
Mamaw: You can’t have a goddamn hissy every time you have an off day. You got to think about these kids.
Bev: What do you think I’ve been thinking about since I was eighteen years-old, huh? I never had a life where I wasn’t thinking about the kids.
Bev: It isn’t easy, alright? Just wait till you get pregnant.
Lindsay: I’m not having a kid.
Bev: What, you think you’re special? That’s what happens to girls.
Lindsay: Only girls that are stupid.
[Bev slaps her]
Mamaw: [as she’s watching Terminator 2] “Hasta la vista, baby.”
Young JD: How many times have you seen this movie?
Mamaw: Oh, about a hundred.
Young JD: Why do you keep watching it?
Mamaw: Like it, I figure.
Mamaw: Everyone in this world is one of three kinds. A good Terminator, a bad Terminator, and neutral.
Young JD: You’re a good Terminator.
Mamaw: Well, I wasn’t always. I had to learn. Now, you could be too, if you don’t f*** it up. You’re like me.
Young JD: [referring to Papaw] He was a good Terminator.
Mamaw: At times, he could be the bad one. Why do you think he was living down the street there?
Young JD: How was he bad?
Mamaw: He let things get to him, make him feel small.
Young JD: Could I be bad?
JD Vance: Oh, my God. Is that a fried bologna sandwich? My savior.
JD Vance: [as she playfully tries to take the plate from him] Come on, Linds. Seriously. I need this. Give me the damn sandwich.
Lindsay: I saved you the last slice. I figured they don’t have that at Yale.
JD Vance: You know, I think this might be outlawed at Yale.
JD Vance: [after Usha offers to stay with Bev] Usha, I appreciate it. But you’d have no idea what you’d be walking into.
Usha: I’ve been in hospitals before, JD, when my grandmother was sick.
JD Vance: It’s not the f***ing flu, Usha! Okay? My mom overdosed on heroin.
JD Vance: Is that the kind of problem you want? I didn’t think so.
JD Vance: So you’re a soccer mom.
Lindsay: Such a fake.
JD Vance: I don’t know. I think I got you out-faked by a mile.
JD Vance: [at the rehab center] I respect your need to follow procedure. I know she messed up. And she’s had a history of it, but she also has a history of being a pretty good person. She put herself through nursing school as a single mother, and now I’m at law school. I just, I really, ma’am, I really think that if my mom had somebody to believe in her. You need to understand that I can’t leave here. I can’t, until I’ve done everything humanly possible. Alright? This is my family. So until you drag me out of here, I’m going to keep giving you reasons.
JD Vance: [after Bev refuses to stay at rehab] Why am I here, mom?
Bev: Feel superior maybe?
JD Vance: How can you be so f***ing selfish? Do you even care what you do to Lindsay?
JD Vance: You did the same thing to Mamaw. Mom, you just took and took from her, until she was practically bankrupt!
Bev: Yeah, she was a goddamn saint.
JD Vance: All she ever did was bail you out, mom!
Bev: Except when it mattered!
JD Vance: Do you actually want to be dead, mom? Or are you just too lazy try?
Lindsay: JD! Don’t!
Bev: Oh, I tried! Plenty.
Lindsay: [to JD, referring to Bev] I can’t defend her, but I’m trying to forgive her. If you don’t, you’re never going to get out of what you’re trying to get out of.
Bev: [to JD] I’ve been doing real good. I’ve been working, trying to get my license back. I just had a down, you know, month.
Bev: [to JD] Oh, you know me. I always land on my feet.
Bev: I didn’t marry Matt. I married Ken.
Young JD: What?
Mamaw: Who the hell’s Ken?
Bev: My boss at the dialysis center.
Mamaw: Kiss my ruby-red a**hole. When did all this happen?
Bev: Well, it’s been going on. I mean, anyway, it’s been over with Matt for a while.
Young JD: It’s over with Matt?
Bev: Well, obviously. I married somebody else.
Mamaw: JD, you need to help your mama on this.
Young JD: You let her get away with this every time. How is she going to learn?
Bev: I told you that I would do better.
Young JD: You always say that! You’re lying!
Bev: And I always try!
Young JD: If you’d put your foot down years ago, she wouldn’t be like this! She wouldn’t!
You’re a s**tty mom, and so are you!
Mamaw: You may be right about some of what you said. But things haven’t exactly worked out for your mama. And we can’t let them take her license.
Young JD: Why? It’s her own stupid fault.
Mamaw: I know this ain’t right, honey. But she’s your mother. And maybe, if we help her this one last time, she’ll finally learn her lesson and keep her job.
Young JD: Why can’t we let her clean her own mess up for once?
Mamaw: Because family is the only thing that means a goddamn. You’ll learn that.
Young JD: Mamaw, I want to stay with you. Can I stay?
Mamaw: Can’t do that. We’re not going to do that to her. But you always got me. Now, do this for her.
Young JD: [referring to her dying] I know you know. People know.
Mamaw: What kind of feather-brained idea is that? Who knows they’re going to die?
Young JD: People do. Like Native Americans.
Mamaw: They’re called Indians. Like the Cleveland Indians, and they don’t know more than other people. They’re not magic just because they don’t have microwaves.
Bev: [to Ray] You’re a hillbilly loser. And you ain’t even got any of your teeth!
Bev: You and your sister are the only things I ever did in my life worth s**t. I don’t know how you got so far.
JD Vance: I don’t know how far I’ve really gotten.
Mamaw: Oh, honey, you got a right to your own life. JD ain’t your responsibility.
Lindsay: Whose is he?
Mamaw: You’ve always got a reason! But it’s always someone else’s fault! At some point, you’re going to have to take responsibility.
Bev: Or what?
Mamaw: Or someone else is going to have to step in!
Bev: Who, huh?! Who? You?! What are you going to do?
Mamaw: [to Travis] Oh, I don’t give a rat fart what you’re smoking, kid. If you think you’re hiding it, honey, you’re dumb as a bag of hair.
Mamaw: [referring to JD] I’m taking him.
Mamaw: To live with me. And if you got a problem with that, you can talk to the barrel of my gun.
Mamaw: He’s getting in trouble. He’s in trouble.
Bev: He’s a teenager.
Mamaw: No, it’s not just that. He needs somebody to pay some f***ing attention before it’s too late.
Mamaw: He could have gone to jail, Beverly. He’s got loser friends, and he’s going to be a loser if somebody don’t do something.
Bev: No, he’s not. And you can’t just take him, because he’s not yours!
Mamaw: Well, he might as well be!
Bev: [to JD, referring to Mamaw] You want to go? And live with her? She’s crazy, you know that. She’s been crazy my whole life. But if you want to live with that crazy old witch, you go right ahead. You two were made for each other.
JD Vance: I could drive ten hours to this thing and not even get the job.
Lindsay: Or you could.
JD Vance: But it just doesn’t feel right. I wouldn’t feel good leaving you here to deal with all this s**t.
Lindsay: Don’t make us your excuse, JD. It’s just the way it is. I’m alright.
Mamaw: You know what’s interesting about the Poles? They like to bury their dead with their a**es sticking out of the ground. That way they got a place to park their bikes.
Mamaw: You can stay, or you can go with them.
Young JD: What the hell? Those are my friends.
Mamaw: Not anymore. You can thank me later. Three years from now, those idiots will be on food stamps or in jail.
Young JD: Well, who am I supposed to talk to?
Mamaw: Talk to yourself. Works for me.
Young JD: I don’t have the right calculator.
Mamaw: Well, get the damn thing!
Young JD: Costs eighty-four dollars!
Mamaw: What, is it made out of gold?
Young JD: All you do is yell at me!
Mamaw: Well, if you didn’t act like a s**t-for-brains, I wouldn’t have to yell.
Mamaw: Now stop stealing things, do your f***ing homework, and find some decent friends.
Young JD: I don’t want new friends.
Mamaw: Well, then you’re not going to have any.
Young JD: You can’t tell me who I’m going to hangout with. You’re not my mom.
Mamaw: I’m all you got.
Mamaw: If I weren’t crippled, I’d get out of this car right now, and I’d walk around, and I’d smack your head and your a** together!
Young JD: Why do you even want me?
Mamaw: Who said I wanted you?
Young JD: I really hate you, you know that?
Mamaw: I don’t care you hate me. I ain’t in it for popularity. You got to take care of business. You got to school. You got to get good grades to even have a chance.
Young JD: Mom was the best in her class. What’s the point?
Mamaw: The point is, you don’t know s**t! I’m talking about a chance. You might not make it, but you sure as hell won’t if you don’t try.
Young JD: Why do you even care what I do?
Mamaw: I ain’t going to live forever. Who’s going to take care of this family when I’m gone? You know, I thought your mama was going to be alright. Be happy, do good. But she got tore up around here. She just up and quit. She just stopped trying. I know I could have done better. But you, you got to decide, you want to be somebody or not.
JD Vance: Get the surp.
Usha: Get the what?
JD Vance: The surp. You can’t have pancakes without surp.
Usha: Oh, my God. JD, it’s not “surp”, it’s “syrup”.
JD Vance: Surp.
Usha: Syrup. Oh, God. You’re so cute!
JD Vance: I love you, mom. And I want you to get better.
Bev: I know.
JD Vance: For you to be happy. And I’ll help you. I’ll do everything I can. But I can’t stay. I’m not saving anyone here. Lindsay’s on her way. I really hope you’ll wait for her. But I have to go. Don’t give up, mom.
JD Vance: Look, Usha, I’m sorry. You know, I’m sorry I didn’t just come out and tell you all this stuff before. Guess I was just worried that I’d scare you off. Did I?
Usha: Not even close.
JD Vance: [to Usha] In boot camp, the only way you’re allowed to talk to your family is with letters. And my family, they, yeah, they wrote me every day. Mamaw’s letters were just the greatest. She would go from, “Jesus walks with you, JD. Stay strong. Don’t forget that.” To, “I wish I had a gun so I could shoot that d**khead drill sergeant of yours.”
JD Vance: My grandparents just left everything they knew behind and started over with what they could fit in Papaw’s truck.
Usha: Yeah. That’s like my dad. He came here with nothing. He had to just find his way.
JD Vance: I think that’s what kills me the most about Mamaw. I never got to tell people just how much she meant to me. She’d been sick a long time, but when it happened, I couldn’t, yeah, I couldn’t like believe she was actually gone.
Usha: I wish I could have met her.
JD Vance: Yeah, me too.
JD Vance: Twice I’ve needed to be rescued. The first time it was Mamaw who saved me. The second, it was what she taught me. That where we come from is who we are, but we choose every day who we become. My family is not perfect, but they made me who I am and gave me chances that they never had. My future, whatever it is, is our shared legacy.
Well first off, learn to spell “bologna” if you’re going to write this. Great movie, much better quotes could have been included. Decent read.
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