Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Quick Cuts: "Hick" Movie Review by Alex Schopp

Release: 2012
Director: Derick Martini
Written By: Andrea Portes
Actors: Chloƫ Grace Moretz, Blake Lively, Juliette Lewis, Eddie Redmayne, Rory Culkin, Alec Baldwin
Rated: R
Run Time: 95 min

"Hick" follows a young teenage girl, Luli (Moretz), who escapes her life in rural Nebraska and her alcoholic parents, fleeing for the glamorous city of Las Vegas. While she never makes it to her final destination, its the adventures she has in the short amount of time with the different characters along the way that make this story interesting. And don't take that to mean anything close to some heartfelt meaning, where these different characters she encounters help her to grow and up find who she really is. No, we're talking about bad people, most of them with serious issues, showing her just how intense the real world can be.

I guess the film plays out like a coming-of-age tale, but one that I hope most of us aren't able to connect with. When the film starts, we see Luli living in a trailer-trash household, with parents that probably don't really care about her all that much. She has big dreams beyond this town, and in one impulsive moment, decides to flee her home and head somewhere that she thinks can offer her a better lifestyle. With only her drawing pad, a few sets of clothes, and a gun that one of her relatives got her for her most recent birthday, she hits the road. And that's where she runs into all of these different kinds of characters - the typical crowd that would probably be open to helping young hitchhikers out in the middle of nowhere: drug addicts, murderers, etc. They all seem harmless enough at first, but after a few days of being around them, Luli finds that life on the road is much worse than she envisioned. As she's around them more and more (better them then on your own in the middle of nowhere, right?), she's conflicted about what she thought was ahead of her, and what this adventure is quickly turning into.

Character-wise, I though Moretz did a pretty good job here. She did't do much different than I've seen of her before, but it's nice to see her starting to grow up a bit and transition into more adult roles. I think she'll be a competent actress moving forward. And she did provide a nice amount of conflict for what you'd expect from a lost teenage girl. I bought and felt for her character. Eddie Redmayne does a decent job in one of the more prominent roles in the film too, but you can definitely tell that he's a bit less seasoned than some of his other castmates. Alec Baldwin is the highlight for me, even though he probably only has a minute or two of screen time. But his decent personality after being barraged with terrible people for the previous hour was a refreshing bit. Plus it's always enjoyable seeing Alec Baldwin pop up on screen regardless (I didn't even know he was in the film until his appearance).

The story is one that you're not enjoying too much, but it's almost like a train wreck and you can't look away. It didn't have quite that much excitement, but it was still similar in comparison. Most of these characters have so few redeeming qualities that you feel disgusted more than anything. Murder, rape, drug use, prostitution, and more are just some of the subjects breached by this handful of characters in only an hour and a half. The film isn't overly graphic, but they're not shy about how these characters are and what they're up to.

The end of the film provided a satisfying climax and resolution, both in intensity and then contentment for our main character. After we find out that the characters around this girl's life aren't good people, I really had no idea where the film would go. Moretz' character always had a good heart though, and even though she ran away from home, she wasn't ever a bad or hateful person; the juxtaposition of both her kind-hearted character and these vile people was actually pretty interesting to watch unfold and develop.

The film is a drama (and a rural, almost southern drama at that), so it doesn't always move very quickly. But the fact that you probably aren't sure how to feel about what you're watching or have any idea where it's going keeps it easier to watch than you'd expect though. If it's a slow week, maybe give this one a shot. It's an interesting watch one time if nothing else. It wasn't one of my favorite films I've seen this year, but there wasn't much I disliked about it as a film either.