Hick

I don’t get it. I don’t understand the point of Hick. I don’t know if it has one that’s hidden so deeply that without inside knowledge — perhaps of the novel on which it is based — we’ll never discover it, or if it’s missing altogether, but I didn’t get anything out of it. The film follows around a neglected girl who runs into nothing but bad people before eventually … I don’t want to spoil it, but nothing much happens and nobody grows or learns from the hardships faced during the course of the film.

Hick stars Chloë Grace Moretz as Luli, a 13-year-old whose father is a drunk and whose mother never seems to be around. An early scene shows her birthday, held at a bar, where she receives a gun as a present. The bartender soon has to stop her father from driving her home, as he gets completely hammered. This is the type of girl who spends more time with the TV than is healthy. One day, an advertisement for Las Vegas pops up. To this 13-year-old, Vegas seems like a place that will fix all her troubles. So, with a notebook, pencil, and gun in hand, she starts walking to Vegas. Note: she lives several states over — Nebraska, if I remember correctly.

So, she starts hitchhiking. The first person she encounters is Eddie (Eddie Redmayne), who walks with a limp and is deceptively charming. He’s also very creepy and has a short temper. Luli eventually leaves his ride, although they’ll cross paths again. Next, she encounters Glenda (Blake Lively), whose origins and profession are unknown — but she’s someone who snorts cocaine and knows some very unsavory characters.

Eddie and Glenda go in and out of the story with some rapidity. This is a road movie, one where every stop means more danger for young Luli. Eddie is often the cause of that danger. There isn’t any happiness or joy in this movie to lighten the mood. It’s dark and unsettling for its entire duration. Luli just has one bad thing after another happen, eventually leading to her “growing up,” even though she doesn’t really.

Those last few sentences indicate what’s truly wrong with Hick. It’s just awful moment after awful moment, and nothing changes for our lead. She goes on this terrible journey and she doesn’t take anything from it. It also relies a bit too much on coincidence and becomes unbelievable at times. Eddie shows up at essentially every stop on the trip. How? Because the movie decides he does, that’s how. It’s never suggested that he’s following our protagonist — stalking her, if you will. He just happens to be wherever she is.

Alec Baldwin is in this movie, but only for a couple of scenes, and he provides the film a way to conclude. That’s it. His character shows up out of nowhere, does a couple of things, and then allows the movie to finally end. It’s a convenience added in by the writer, but nothing more. These things are noticeable to an audience, and despite the serious and dark subject matter of Hick, it’s rather difficult to take it seriously because of the way the story plays out.

The novel on which the film is based, also titled Hick, was written by Andrea Portes and has been billed as semi-autobiographical. The screenplay for the film was also written by Portes. Sometimes those who write novels can’t properly write screenplays, even if they’re adapting their own work. Or maybe the novel suffers from all the same problems as the film does; I wouldn’t know, as I haven’t read the novel. After seeing the film, I have no interest in reading it. The internet claims that the changes the film made actually make it a less depressing experience. It’s dark enough as is.

If there’s one thing that Hick does, it’s re-cement Chloë Moretz as one of the great up-and-coming actors. The film takes full advantage of her beyond-her-years maturity, and the way she can handle even the least comfortable moments is something to admire. There is probably no better actress to cast in a role like this one, so at least the film’s casting director deserves some kudos. Nobody else leaves much of an impression, to be honest. Even though Blake Lively and Eddie Redmayne get somewhat significant screen time, they both can’t match up or make much of an impact.

Is there any positive to Hick (apart from Chloë Moretz’s performance)? If there is, I can’t think of it. It’s dank, depressing, and offers nothing in the form of redemption or purpose to all of it. There’s no lesson and no point, or at least not one that was accessible. Despite its dark tones, it’s too silly to take seriously. When it’s over, you come away with nothing. Hick‘s a bad film and I can’t give you a reason to watch it.

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