Movie review: ‘Rich Hill’ spotlights poverty, in a general way

First Published Sep 04 2014 03:02PM      Last Updated Oct 03 2014 02:18 pm

"Rich Hill," which won the Grand Jury Prize for documentaries at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, points out the dangers of trying to humanize a major social issue: The humans are more complicated than that, and the social issue gets muddled.

Here, cousins Tracey Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo try to tell the story of three teen boys who live in Rich Hill, Mo., population 1,396. Andrew is a good kid, but his family has moved a lot so his father can find work. Appachey likes skateboarding, but his short temper (inherited, as we see, from his mom) gets him into trouble at school. And Harley is a quick-tempered Juggalo who lives with his grandma because his mom is in prison.

The filmmakers elicit sympathy for these boys and capture evocative images of small-town life, but the movie doesn’t have much to offer beyond a general "poverty is bad" message.

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‘Rich Hill’

Opens Friday, Sept. 5, at the Broadway Centre Cinemas; not rated, but probably PG-13 for language and mature themes; 91 minutes.