I Just Watched Netflix’s New #1 Movie ‘Hillbilly Elegy’—Here’s My Honest Review

*Warning: Minor spoilers ahead*

Are you in the market for new streaming content? While you binge your way through The Queen’s Gambit, there’s no harm in watching Netflix’s brand-new movie Hillbilly Elegy, which is based on the namesake memoir by J.D. Vance.

The film just came out this week, and it’s already shot up to the number one spot on the streaming service’s list of most watched movies. (It’s currently ranked ahead of Hard Kill, The Grinch, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 and The Princess Switch: Switched Again.)

So, what is Hillbilly Elegy about? And is it worth the watch? Keep reading for my honest review.

hillbilly elegy netflix review
Lacey Terrell/NETFLIX

1. What Is 'hillbilly Elegy' About?

Hillbilly Elegy shows the impact of the American Dream on three generations of an Appalachian family. (Glenn Close plays the matriarch, Mamaw.) The movie begins by introducing viewers to J.D. (Owen Asztalos), a young boy who’s wise beyond his years.

This is a result of his unusual childhood, which involved being raised by a single mom, Bev (Amy Adams), who struggles with addiction. Although she didn’t set the best example, J.D. coaches his mother through breakups and bouts of anger.

That is, until he goes off to college, followed by Yale Law. Years later, grown-up J.D. (Gabriel Basso) is about to finalize his interviews for a summer associate position when he receives a call from his sister, Lindsay (Haley Bennett), who explains that Bev is in the hospital recovering from an overdose.

The movie documents J.D.’s journey home as he tries to reconnect with the family he left behind. While it’s not necessarily a tearjerker, the heartbreakingly real plot definitely pulled at my heartstrings.

hillbilly elegy netflix
Lacey Terrell/NETFLIX

2. Is It Worth The Watch?

It depends on your viewing preferences and any potential personal triggers, since there is a heavy emphasis on addiction. That being said, I highly suggest you give it a try if you feel comfortable with the sensitive subject.

The movie is admittedly slow moving at first, since it begins with J.D.’s turbulent childhood. It quickly picks up when the plot skips forward several years, turning more into a familial drama than a semi-comical glimpse of what it’s really like to grow up in the middle of nowhere.

Personally, I enjoyed the realness of it all. Hillbilly Elegy offers a rare glimpse at the sacrifices people like J.D. have made to achieve their dreams, all while highlighting the importance of family and where you came from. I’m only slightly ashamed to admit that I got the chills when J.D. said, “Where we come from is who we are, but we choose every day who we become.”

By the end of the movie, the complex story line comes full circle, which is something I appreciate when I invest nearly two hours of my time in a movie. During the credits, there are even details on where the real-life people are today, including Bev.

So, if you’re feeling in the mood for a slightly gut-wrenching tale that spans multiple generations, I suggest you add Hillbilly Elegy to your streaming queue.

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Senior Editor

Greta Heggeness is a California-based editor at PureWow and has been writing about entertainment since 2015. She covers everything from awards shows to exclusive celebrity...