The rumors are true: It is overwrought, heavy-handed, periodically hammy, and my oh my, terribly chaotic and dramatic. Amy Adams' character is a tornado that destroys everything in its path.
And the film is nowhere near as good as the book, but we all know that's the rule, not the exception.
Nevertheless, it has its moments. More importantly, it has Glenn Close, whom I absolutely underestimated. Upon seeing the trailer several months ago, I thought to myself, "No way. She can't make me forget Dan, his poor boiled bunny, and her altogether Fatal Attraction," but here you have it: She does.
Man, is she good. Great, really. She carries the whole shebang, overcomes everyone around her, and reminds me of all the strong, amazing grandmothers I've had the great privilege of knowing, from my own to my neighbors' to my friends' hither and yon.
God bless the "mamaws."
p.s. Unrelated, there is a funeral procession scene during which drivers-by put their cars (and pick-up trucks, sedans, and station wagons) in park, hop out to rise to their feet, and remove their hats to cover their hearts. "Why are they doing that?" our teen protagonist asks, to which Mamaw replies, "Because we're hill people, Honey. We honor our dead."
Yes they do. Years ago I ran headlong into just such a procession of vehicles on a client trip to West Virginia, and they did exactly that. I was blown away and humbled, tears streaming down my face on the side of Rural Route Whatever.
No one does that anymore, hardly anywhere, but maybe back there they still do. I'd like to think so.
We can learn a great deal from folks who have their priorities straight.
These days, it's not unusual to see idiots accelerate to pass just such a procession.
How far we've fallen in basic civilities.
Here's hoping Hillbilly Elegy, bombastic as it is, leaves us a bit wiser than it found us.