Friday, March 13, 2015

What We're Watching: Rich Hill



Rather than do a Friday Favorites today we wanted to share about a film that we watched last night and again today while we were working. To say we were highly affected by Rich Hill is an understatement. I mean, we're both easily moved to tears, but these were tears that the filmmakers fully earned. 

Though I don't want to scare you off with a mention of tears this early in the review. Sure, Rich Hill is about serious stuff, but there is definitely a genuine uplift in the overall message if you allow yourself to pull back a bit and look at your own life and history, and the lives and histories of your friends, family, and neighbors. 


Rich Hill follows the lives of three young men from a very small impoverished town, Rich Hill, MO. Over the period of about a year we get to see them face their daily challenges growing up without solid father figures, and with mothers who are fairly young themselves, and spread way too thin.

When I say there is an uplifting spirit to the film, it mostly has to do with the attitude of the three boys. All three seem to be incapable of saying "poor me". Sure, they have some problems adjusting in school and in life in general. But wouldn't we all have these same problems if dealt a similar hand?


 The film has a magical way of pulling in close to the subjects and their stories, and then quickly moving back to reveal the "more normal/less stressful/everyday" world that is still out there beyond the margins of these struggles. And for that we give major credit to the musical score and the cinematography, which are fused together perfectly. Within the same few seconds we're shown the stark contrasts in life, but the director isn't heavy handed. Andrew (the character that truly stole my heart) is dealing with yet another financial hardship and another jarring move to a new home, new town, and new school. And right on cue the film cuts to the 4th of July fireworks at the center of town, where hardworking folks are able to unwind, and where some can even bid upwards of $3000 in a cream pie auction. But we're not meant to feel bad or guilty about this. The auction and the fireworks almost serve as "local color". We even see the boys sitting among this same crowd of fireworks spectators.

The message of the film isn't that these poor boys need help. It's simply that you should love and respect your neighbor because you have no idea of the hardships that they might be currently facing. Sure, most of us have that response built-in to our DNA already. But maybe we still need a little reminder. Be kinder, be gentler, and know that most people are trying their hardest, even if it doesn't exactly look like it on the surface.

Aside from the F-bombs that come out of the youngest boy's (a sixth grader named Appachey) mouth, this film is fairly clean. We don't see drug use, but it's spoken of. We don't see violence, but it's spoken of. In a way, we do see lots of abuse, but it's almost passive abuse. It's the type of abuse that happens when boys are left to raise themselves. 


We seriously can't recommend this film more. It was great. Right after watching we checked out the official website to read updates on the boys…which by the way…at the very end of the film, right before the credits, there are a few sentences telling us approximately where these boys ended up after filming came to a close. Don't miss those updates!



Rich Hill is available to stream on Netflix now.

Ok, that's all for now. Me and Aaron watch a lot of movies and a lot of shows, and often have a lot to say about them. So hopefully we'll get to share a lot more reviews like this in posts to come. Thanks so much again for reading.

xoxo, Jenny and Aaron


9 comments:

  1. Well...I think I Will just hop on over to Netflix & wath "Rich Hill"!! ;). Thanks! Just settling in to wind down.

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    1. Great! We hope you liked it as much as we did. Thanks for reading!

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  2. thank you for the recommendation! i added it to my queue, i think it is right up my alley. i hope you'll post more of these! a movie i saw recently that i loved was song of the sea. the animation is stunningly beautiful. and there were tears!

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    1. Thanks! We definitely will post more recommendations. We watch something nearly every night to wind down. We'll check Song of the Sea. Thanks for the tip!

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  3. I want to remember to look for this. just wrote it down. Many people have a difficult time trying to understand why people are the way they are and often judge without giving someones life any thought. We probably all do at some time or another. It sounds like the boys in the program that youre talking about have some pretty good coping mechanisms. I work with teenage boys who are placed in foster cluster homes or residential settings. I almost always find something I like about them right away.. mostly their resiliency to survive in crappy homes. I always think.. omg.. he was someones baby.. what happen to bring him to this point. Even the boys who have committed some pretty bad crimes, I think, there were reasons, events, lack of needs being met, broken down family systems, ineffective helping systems that lead them to this place. (all of these not excuses to break the law) I am by far no angel.. in fact I spend a good deal of time lecturing and being irritated by them. but I do always try to understand where theyre coming from.. I just wish there was a way to fix it for them.. in most cases.. theres not. I probably make very little difference in their lives.. but they make a huge difference in mine. I dont know if anything I just wrote makes sense or is even remotely related to the program that you discribed. But I do think its important to try to know more about where people who touch our lives and to try to uncover and value what their strengths are.. blaa blaa blaa.. so what did I just write!? lol.. ok.. and soo... have a happy day! lol!

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    1. Viv, you're the best. And we get exactly what you mean. It's so easy to criticize, and the real challenge is to understand someone and where they're coming from. And yes, everything you're saying is very similar to what this film is about. It's boys growing up without any choices really. And at the same time it's very hard to even blame the parents. Sure, there are a couple moments in the film when the father of one of the boys reveals what his plans are for the future…and we were smacking our foreheads because his ideas were the furthest thing from realistic. (digging for gold in Australia for instance.) But by and large we also felt the plight of the parents. Maybe they started their families at too young an age, split up with the father of the children, and then they had very little choices after that.
      It's so great that you share yourself with these kids you work with. Love you Viv!

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  4. We watched this on Friday night right after I read your recommendation and all I can say is wow, just wow! It provided continual fodder for conversation the whole weekend - my 18 year old son was even drawn in and watched it with us! It was just so affecting and heartbreaking. The part where Appachey says he wants to move to China and become an artist and draw dragons all day - I get teary just thinking about it! Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that we appreciated the recommendation so much and probably never would have found it on our own! Our family would love it if you post more of your recommendations any time you feel moved to. I don't post comments as often as I should ... but think you guys are great and such an inspiration! Keep up the great work!

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    1. Thanks so so much! Your comment means a lot to us! It's so great when film reaches beyond the level of entertainment, and in this case it even reaches above the level of art and becomes almost a form of community service. And seriously, we're thrilled to have provided content for you and your family to share. We don't blog nearly enough, mainly because our work occupies almost 24/7 of our time…but we hope to share much more personal stuff. Geez, with the amount of books Aaron reads this blog could strictly be a book review blog. But really…thank you so much for coming back and sharing your comment. It means a lot to us to know that we've made a connection with you!

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  5. I love getting recommendations, added to my queue!

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Thanks so much for reading! We absolutely love to hear from you guys...so please leave a comment if the mood strikes you, or if you have any questions for us about a recipe, project, art supply , paint color, etc. Don't panic if your comment doesn't appear right away...we moderate all comments to avoid getting tons of spam. Thanks again!!
xo Jenny & Aaron