Tuesday, August 19, 2014

[Review] Rich Hill (Documentary)

"We're not trash, we're good people."

Rich Hill is a depressing, yet hopeful portrait of poverty in rural America.

The camera follows around the daily endeavors of Andrew, Harley, and Appachey--three teenagers living in a beaten-down Missouri town. Their houses are on the verge of crumbling, the appliances don't work, and the backyards look like junkyards.

Andrew's parents are unemployed, and his mother suffers from an undisclosed condition. He just wants to play sports and be treated fairly at the closest high school, Rich Hill. Harley's father left when he was young, and he battles mental illness and troubles in school. He also loves to skateboard. Appachey's mother is in prison for attempting to murder her husband who sexually abused Appachey. He has anger issues, and likes to listen to music and apply Juggalo paint to his face for Halloween.

It's obvious that these kids have been dealt awful hands, but the documentary's gaze thankfully never leaps into exploitation. And while the film is beautifully shot and boasts some stellar photography, it's also respectful and sympathetic, even though these kids want no sympathy. The highs and lows are vividly captured.

The ironically titled Rich Hill is painfully bittersweet. Sweet--because through all the rough times, Andrew, Harley, and Appachey all manage to find joy, clinging to the desire of a better life. Bitter--because it's not a certain thing if they'll ever get one.

Recommended Doc

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