For Reel

Rich Hill (2014)
July 14, 2015, 12:17 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , ,

Director(s): Andrew Droz Palermo & Tracy Droz Tragos
3 Stars
Rich HillRich Hill, a bleak documentary that follows a trio of boys from an impoverished town in Missouri, begins with a monologue from the most ambitious of the the characters. He muses that snobs often come through town with their noses turned upwards, and reiterates that, “We’re not trash. We’re good people.” Often, it feels distressingly as though that this is the point Rich Hill is making–that poor people are people too. The problem, of course, is the inherent condescension. Although it’s a dramatic storytelling device to have the most violent of the kids reveal a history of sexual abuse late in the picture in that it reverses one’s opinion of him, it also feels like the type of manipulation that could only come from a point of privilege. Regardless, the characters are pretty irresistible and easy to root for. The subject who is given the least development is a 13-year-old who chain-smokes, swears, and has been diagnosed with a number of mental disorders that are going untreated by a mother who says he’s old enough to make his own choices. She’s a detestable figure in the early-goings, but as the film goes on it moves beyond the easy route of simply vilifying her. Directors Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo do a lot aestheticize the surroundings–the hazy montages and ethereal soundtrack feels like a David Gordon Green picture–which underlines the melancholic mood a little too excessively. It borders on feeling like an exploitation of poverty, but it does fit with the sleepy, exhausted mood of the town. Time passes unerringly, as these people stumble through the days trying to do what is right and, more achingly, what little they can.

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