[Review] – Hick

27 May

Title: Hick
Year: 2012
Director: Derick Martini
Writer: Derick Martini and Andrea Portes, based on Ms. Portes’ novel
Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Blake Lively, Alec Baldwin, Rory Culkin, Juliette Lewis, Eddie Redmayne, Ray McKinnon
MPAA Rating: R, disturbing content involving a teen, violence, drug use, language and drinking
Runtime: 95 min
IMDb Rating: 5.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 0%
Metacritic: 28

Hick has a few actors I really like, especially Chloë Grace Moretz who I’m a really huge fan of and is the lead of the film, and people like Alec Baldwin and Juliette Lewis in supporting roles. So, based on names alone, I was kind of excited about this one, but then I saw those review aggregator numbers and I became really cautious: a big fat 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a crappy 28 on Metacritic. And, well, suffice it to say the numbers didn’t lie and this has been a crappy weekend for me movie-wise, after having this and the one I saw yesterday (Girl in Progress) be two films I’ve given a failing grade to.

Ms. Moretz, who’s one of the finest young performers we have working today no matter the slip that taking on this film might have been, plays Luli, a very damaged teenager who leaves a home full of violence and alcohol in Nebraska to set out for Las Vegas, with only her wit, some pocket money, and a pistol that was actually given to her by her parents for her thirteenth birthday. Suffice it to say on that cross-country trip Luli embarks on she will only encounter even more cruel and quite damaged people, and her life will be full of violence and drugs and alcohol. All of this involving a thirteen year-old.

The performances here are actually quite effective. Ms. Moretz has some moments that are pretty good, and throughout the whole thing we’re reminded that she’s actually super talented and a great screen presence with a helluva lot of charm, but the way the story’s handled just completely eradicates whatever good the performances in this film were doing. A lot of horrible, horrible stuff happens to Luli, she witnesses death first-hand, she comes from a horribly broken home, she’s raped while barely being a teenager. And yet Hick never really commits to the grim stuff it’s portraying, it always chooses to do something in those dark instances to make it seem lighter than it is, inserting some Americana song, or cutting to a moment of comic relief or a dumb montage and it completely loses any kind of effect this film wanted to have.

It’s all about the people she meets while on the road. There’s Eddie, played by Eddie Redmayne, who’s the kind of charming bad guy who’s only involved with the shadiest of people. Then there’s Glenda, the party girl played by Blake Lively, who offers cocaine to a thirteen year-old. Eventually, for one reason or the other, Eddie starts popping back into her life, and, like I said, Eddie’s the kind of guy who only knows people you don’t want to rub shoulders with. And through it all you just know that filmmaker Derick Martini, who adapted Andrea Portes‘ novel with her, felt that he was doing something really good, something brave. Something tells me that, as bad as this film may be, and it really is very bad, he’ll have a future as a filmmaker (and I’ve heard his 2009 effort, Lymelife, is pretty amazing), but in this instance he just did a lot of things wrong, and just didn’t show an apt handling of very sensitive material.

The biggest mistake for me was that, by the time the film was done, I didn’t even get what this film was there for. I didn’t get the message it was trying to communicate, the lesson it was trying to impart, mostly because I found myself thinking that I had watched a whole film of really horrible things happen to Luli, and yet I didn’t felt as though I knew anything of real substance about her.

It just sucks because I was excited about this one, the story had a lot of potential, the cast was certainly very good, and the performances are pretty good here (Ms. Lively actually really surprised me), but when it’s all said and done this turns out to be one of those things in which the separate parts are far greater than the sum of them. That’s because I didn’t get what it was all there for; Mr. Redmayne gives a good performance as Eddie because he’s good at playing this creepy kind of guy with a really intense interest in Luli, but I don’t know if this was a film saying something against pedophilia, I didn’t get it at all.

Count Hick as a really big disappointment of the 2012 year in film. I wasn’t expecting a great film (mostly because I have yet to catch up with Lymelife), but this ended up feeling just very, very fake. Fake because the script is just tough to believe, the characters, though acted out really well, are improbable creations, and their interactions, especially the climatic encounter between Eddie and Glenda, are ludicrous, something that isn’t helped, of course, by a director that never once finds the appropriate tone for this story. Two very different coming-of-age stories for me this weekend, and two that had interesting enough premises that were absolutely squandered when it was all said and done.

Grade: D+

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2 Responses to “[Review] – Hick”

  1. AndyWatchesMovies May 30, 2012 at 8:55 am #

    Too bad this one didn’t end up being better. I thought the trailer looked promising the first time I saw it

    • ArtfullyBedraggled May 30, 2012 at 10:10 am #

      I actually hadn’t seen the trailer before watching the actual film, but the names had me psyched. But yeah, I found it to be pretty disappointing.

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