A Take on Hillbilly Elegy

I watched the Netflix movie “Hillbilly Elegy” on Thanksgiving. I didn’t really have much expectation and frankly, felt there wasn’t much to choose from. After reading the description, it seemed decent so I invited the Hubby to watch it with me. At first he didn’t sound enthused but I noticed as the movie progressed, he paid more and more attention. And before we knew it, the movie had both of us in tears. Right at the pinnacle of the narrative – I was broken. And at the end, I felt relieved.

I never read the book. I had not even heard of it until last Thursday. Therefore, I have zero opinion on whether or not the movie fell short in comparison to the book. I heard that the book “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis” was a #1 New York Times Best Seller in 2016. Maybe in the future, I’ll read it and then write about my take on the book versus the movie. We shall see.

The movie moved me. Not because I came from the same background or experienced similar things growing up. I didn’t watch the movie to scrutinize it for the supposed political propaganda it’s being accused of.

Honestly, I felt its heart.

Have you ever watched a movie where you understood every character? There was no character to hate? At least not for me. Every single person in the story had their own pain to be appreciated. There were lines that were hauntingly remarkable. And despite the perhaps usual creative embellishment, I journeyed through the roller-coaster of feelings that only a true story drama can take me to.

Here are some of my most favorite lines from the movie. I really encourage you to watch it. What have you got to lose? You most likely, already have, Netflix anyway.

  • “Ask me where I feel most at home.” (JD)
  • “These are my heirlooms. My family heirlooms.” (Bev)
  • “After everything that I do for you? What do you think that I do it for? So you and Lindsay will have everything I never had. You have no clue. I could crash this car and could kill us both and then you’ll know how lucky you are.” (Bev)
  • “Do you actually want to be dead or are you just too lazy to try?” (JD)
  • “I can’t defend her but I am trying to forgive her. If you don’t, you’re never gonna get out of what you’re trying to get out of.” (Lindsay)
  • “You always got a reason. It’s always someone else’s fault. Some point, you’re gonna have to take responsibility.” (Mamaw)
  • “I don’t care you hate me. I ain’t in it for popularity.” (Mamaw)
  • “I’m talking about a chance. You might not make it but you sure won’t if you don’t even try.” (Mamaw)
  • “I love you mom. I want you to get better. I want you to be happy. I’ll help you. I’ll do everything I can but I can’t stay. I’m not saving anyone here.” (JD)

“Where we come from is who we are but we choose every day who we become. My family’s not perfect but they made me who I am and gave me chances that they never had.” (JD)

I agree with JD Vance. Who we become is a legacy we share with our family whether we care to admit or not.

Hubby and I aren’t perfect and we have our own struggles as individuals and as a couple. And every once in a while, on those times when we struggle the most, we can become the parents that we swore we would never be. Each time, we apologize to the kids not really certain whether or not they understand. We can only hope our blunders do not leave lasting impressions.

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