Ron Howard Responds to Critics of Hillbilly Elegy: They’re ‘Looking at Political Thematics’ That Aren’t There


Ron Howard addressed the criticism surrounding his new Netflix movie, Hillbilly Elegy, which has received mostly negative reviews despite the all-star talent behind it.

The movie, based on the memoir by conservative writer J.D. Vance, tells the story of three generations of an Appalachian family, whose youngest member rises out of poverty to become a Yale Law student.

Vance’s 2016 book became a bestseller, thanks in part to the way it helped explain Donald Trump’s popularity among poor white voters. Howard’s film, which stars Amy Adams and Glenn Close, mostly removes the political subtext from the book and centers on the family drama instead.

Hillbilly Elegy currently has a paltry 26 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Entertainment Weekly gave the film an F and described it as an “American horror story.” The Boston Globe called it “a neoliberal’s fantasy and a sociopolitical tract defanged.” Meanwhile, the New Yorker said “Howard, whether intentionally or not, has made a libertarian’s fantasy.”

On Tuesday, Howard and Vance appeared on CBS This Morning, during which they were asked their opinion of the film’s scathing reviews.

“Critics have a job, which is to see something, run it through their lens and write and talk about it,” said Howard. “I do feel like they’re looking at political thematics that they may or may not disagree with that honestly are not really reflected or are not front and center in this story.”

The director continued, “What I saw was a family drama that could be very relatable. Yes, culturally specific, and if you’re fascinated by that, I hope you find it interesting. If you’re from the region, I hope you find it authentic because certainly that was our aim and that was our effort. But I felt that it was a bridge to understanding that we’re more alike than we are different.”

Watch the interview above, via YouTube.

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