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Rich Hill: An empathetic film about left-behind America

“We’re not trash. We’re good people,” says Andrew, one of the three adolescent boys portrayed in documentary film Rich Hill.

3 out of 4 stars

Directed by
Andrew Droz Palermo and Tracy Droz Tragos

"We're not trash. We're good people," says Andrew, one of the three adolescent boys portrayed in this achingly empathetic film about left-behind America, set in the small and ironically named town of Rich Hill, Mo.

Fifteen-year-old Harley, whose mom is in jail for attempted murder, struggles in school and, despite his good humour and charm, suffers from a traumatic sexual assault. Thirteen-year-old Appachey, a skateboarder fan with a high-flying artistic imagination, has a violent temper that could portend a future in long-term incarceration. The most hopeful case is the sweet-tempered Andrew, who gently excuses his father, a part-time Hank Williams impersonator, for his chronic disinclination to hold a full-time job.

The confluence of poverty, dysfunctional parenting and poor educational prospects makes the oft-idealized small-town life look like an incubator for failure, no matter how high and spectacular the Fourth of July fireworks fly.

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About the Author
Film critic

Liam Lacey is a film critic for The Globe and Mail. More


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