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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.