Ron Howard says ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ critics are looking for ‘political thematics’ that are irrelevant to the film

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Ron Howard directed ‘Hillbilly Elegy.’ Christopher Smith/Invision/AP
  • Ron Howard says that critics of his new movie “‘Hillbilly Elegy” are too focused on political optics that are irrelevant to the story.
  • The 66-year-old director said that he was aiming to make a “family drama that could be very relatable” and was not interested in the politics of the film’s real-life inspiration J.D. Vance.
  • Vance is a controversial political pundit who has been named “the Trump whisperer.” The film is based on his memoir of the same name.
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Ron Howard has defended his new Netflix movie “‘Hillbilly Elegy” suggesting that ongoing criticism of the film is unfairly tied to the political beliefs of the story’s real-life inspiration venture capitalist J.D. Vance.

During an interview with CBS This Morning, the 66-year-old director said: “I do feel like they’re looking at political thematics that they may or may not agree with that honestly aren’t really reflected or aren’t front-and-centre in this story.

“What I saw was a family drama that could be very relatable. Yes, culturally specific, and if you’re fascinated by that, I hope you find it interesting. If you’re from the region, I hope you find it authentic, because that was our aim and effort. But I felt it was a bridge to understanding that we’re more alike than we are different.”

The movie, which had a limited theatrical release before hitting Netflix last week, is based on Vance’s memoir of the same name, which controversially gained popularity during the 2016 election as many political pundits used the book as a guide to explain why many lower-income white people voted for Donald Trump.

In turn, Vance was transformed into an overnight conservative celebrity and was even dubbed “the Trump whisperer.”

The film follows Vance through his teenage years as his mother, played by Amy Adams, and his grandmother, played by Glenn Close, navigate drug addiction and poverty in a small Appalachian town. Despite its Hollywood star power, “Hillbilly Elegy” has been panned by critics since its debut.

The film currently has a 26% rating on Rotten Tomatoes with Vulture calling Howard’s adaption “awful” and among “the worst films of the year.”

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