14
Mar
2021
0
White Boy Rick

White Boy Rick

When we are introduced to Richie Merritt‘s Ricky he’s a kid buying guns at an arms fair in 1980s Detroit. With the city on the skids after all the car factories have closed down, both he and his father Rick (an excellent Matthew McConaughey) make ends meet by manufacturing illegal gun parts. Yet, eager to step up in the world, Ricky isn’t content to take the slow train to adulthood and he sets about ingratiating himself with local drugs gangster Johnny Curry. However, other eyes are watching him. For whilst Ricky thinks he’s making moves, he’s about to discover that his burgeoning kingdom is just a pawn-in-the making for two FBI agents.

... Yann Demange's solid drama of a scrappy, dysfunctional family with a poor choice in escape will definitely enrich your evening..

Based on real-life events, director Yann Demange‘s White Boy Rick is a fantastic crime drama that may have escaped your attention back in 2018. Released on the same week as the risible The Predator reboot, this is a hidden movie in Netflix’s suggestion that you really should seek out. 

Opening with a brilliantly comic exchange at a local gun fair when semi-automatics are as freely available as fruit and veg, it’s a swift introduction to the life of Richie Merritt‘s Ricky and Matthew McConaughey as his dad. Merritt’s Ricky is all whisper-thin moustache and sullen teenage eyes and McConaughey excels as his sweaty chancer of a father. As high on dreams as he is on regret, it’s actually McConaughey‘s dreams of dealing arms to start a video rental store that truly underscores their situation. However, Ricky’s wastrel sister Dawn, brilliantly played by Brit actress Bel Powley, isn’t buying it and neither is the ever-excellent Jennifer Jason Leigh and Rory Cochrane as FBI agents on the prowl. Throw in Bruce Dern and Piper Laurie as Rickey’s grandparents and the human chameleon that is Eddie Marsan and you have a film that is positively swimming in quality performances.

Following up from his excellent debut ’71White Boy Rick is a gritty descent into hustlers and near-misses, all operating on the edge of Detroit’s crack epidemic of the 1980s. Never choosing to wave its period details in your face, as is more commonplace nowadays, Ricky’s true-life story, could be (and probably is) happening today. From guns hustler to drug dealer to FBI informant all before his sixteenth birthday, it certainly has the hallmark of fantasy but it is in fact a decaying spiral that you’ll be enjoyably pulled into. 

Aided by Max Richter‘s terrific score and Tat Radcliffe’s gritty cinematography, White Boy Rick is 1 hour and 51 minutes of surprising entertainment. Lost amongst the quotidian superhero fare and barely-believable white-man-got-a-grudge-and-gun revenge movies, Yann Demange‘s solid drama of a scrappy, dysfunctional family with a poor choice in escape will definitely enrich your evening.

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