Ron Howard’s Hillbilly Elegy is such a film. It’s rich material from an acting perspective, as stars Amy Adams and Glenn Close play wild and flawed women of Appalachia trying to do right by their family, and they both sink their teeth into the meaty roles. That, unfortunately, is where the real substance ends, however. Based on a memoir, it has no real story to tell, but hopes to distract you from that fact with its non-linear construction and heightened circumstance. Save for its best performances, it’s merely another rote story about basic family drama and accepting one’s own roots, and is unable to possess any real emotional impact.

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