Amy Adams will star in Netflix’s adaptation of Hillbilly Elegy, J. D. Vance’s dark memoir of decline in Appalachia. Topping the New York Times Best Seller List in August 2016 and January 2017, many critics felt that Vance’s harrowing depiction of addiction, poverty, and lean opportunity captured the voice of the ever-elusive ‘Middle America.’ The memoir was as polarizing as it was popular, provocative not necessarily for its content alone but also for its broader cultural context and political implications.
Details about the film have been steadily emerging: the upcoming Netflix title will be directed by Ron Howard. Thus far, Adams is the first official cast member. The Shape of Water screenwriter Vanessa Taylor, an Academy Award nominee, will write the film’s script. Unlike many writers who prefer to distance themselves from adaptations of their work, J.D. Vance himself is executive producing alongside Julie Oh.
The highly-anticipated release came at a high cost: Netflix shelled out $45 million in an intense bidding war. What was all that money for, you might ask? Check out the memoir below:
Image VIa Amazon
From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class
Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.
The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.
But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history.
A deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.
Featured Image Via Gossip Ganj & Amazon. Edited With PhotoCollage.