“Hillbilly Elegy,” J.D. Vance’s 2016 memoir, won praise for its insight into the forgotten folk whose poverty and hopelessness prompted them to embrace Donald Trump as a political force. That sociology aspect is mostly lost in Netflix’s dreary movie adaptation, which focuses on one family trapped in a circular pattern of dysfunction, and how the son escaped it.
Although Vance is ostensibly the center of this story — played by Gabriel Basso as a Yale Law student, and Owen Asztalos as a teenager — the movie is understandably preoccupied with the key women in his life, his mother Bev (Amy Adams) and foul-mouthed grandmother Mamaw (Glenn Close).
The story picks up with the older J.D. at Yale, interviewing for positions with snooty law firms and feeling conspicuously out of place alongside the blue-blooded, legacy