Hick (2012) - Can't Stop the Movies
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Hick (2012)

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In an attempt to distance myself from the material in Hick, I started writing my notes utilizing the tone and tenor of the recently retired Gene Shalit.  I don’t believe his Today Show peers would have let a film like Hick anywhere close to their set but it was a comforting technique to get me through the movie.  To sum up:

Hick?  More like ick.  The dirty deeds on display do diddly to elevate Ms. Moretz above all the dastardly depravity.   So a final goodbye, from Mr. Good Guy, to try and wash this film away.”

Put into less alliteration prone terms, Hick is an ungodly mess of a film with a central message that is completely misguided and repugnant to boot.  It continues the demonization of the South as a place where only merciless hillbillies live and sexual depravity is around every corner.  I’m not going to pretend that a lot of practices pushed for in our current electorate by them are for the best, but given how much criminal nastiness is on display in Hick it’s amazing enough people survive to vote, let alone escape the kind of psychological damage that these events would inflict.  It’s the worst kind of fantasy, assuming that the life the heroine wants to lead is for the best.

This is the most comfortable scene of a man falling on Luli you'll find in the whole film. Please do not take it as an endorsement that the film is in any way a comfortable experience.

So Hick opens with the traditional drunken family get together you only see in theaters.  Luli (Chloe Moretz) is celebrating her 13th birthday by watching her family get passed-out drunk and receiving a .45 pistol.  For those of you who are curious, the rules of Chekhov’s gun are well in effect here, it just takes a bit of aimless drifting to see who the eventual target is going to be.  Soon after her party Luli decides that it’s time to live the life of a wanderer and sets off on the road with a little bit of cash, her gun, and clothing that suggest an age and profession which would behoove a 13 year old girl not to get caught up in so soon.

Regardless, she hooks up with the mentally unstable drifter Eddie (Eddie Redmayne) and the con-artist Glenda (Blake Lively) as she is introduced to a shady world that just wants to take advantage of her.  Soon enough Luli is doing lines of blow while hanging out in even seedier bars and is witness to property shenanigans she, nor her companions, are capable of fully understanding.  The point and introduction of each of these characters is this, no matter who you know, there is always someone worse waiting in the next scene.

I’m having a difficulty grasping the point of all of this because the film has a hard time narrowing down just whose perspective we’re supposed to be looking at all of this from.  Luli idolizes Dirty Harry and clearly sees her family for the kind of disheveled drunks that they are, but is shown by Derick Martini in full-body camera shots standing in front of a mirror, posing like a model in her underwear.  Seeing a young teenager idolize herself as an older person is not uncommon, but framing her in such a way that she already sees herself as a sexualized being and is similarly reflected by the camera is a disconcerting choice.

Great performances cannot elevate morally dubious material without a strong point of view anchoring just why all of these scenes are necessary.

None of this is helped by the supporting characters.  Despite the fact that they all clearly see she is a young kid, they quickly abandon the pretense and treat her as an adult.  Quickly, the rest of the film follows suit, and Luli isn’t a young teenager so much as an adult drifter with a case of bad luck.  Chloe Moretz has a great acting future ahead of her, and no matter how convincingly she’s able to tell herself and others that she’s an adult, the camera keeps reminding us she’s a teenager in a dangerous situation.

The crucial error made by Hick is that it’s a mix of an adult and child’s fantasy.  The adults in the audience will realize the Red Riding Hood parallels on display with Luli going further into the criminal woods.  But the childish fantasy is still present where the young girl gets to live in the adult world and get away.  These two ideas are not compatible in this story, resulting in a number of disgusting scenes, chief among them a rape where the victim has to think of a game to get her through the night and barely thinks about the crime the next day.

Everyone involved in Hick is a talent worth preserving, in spite of this mishandled film.  The loneliness of the South is portrayed with great care and I felt nostalgic for a number of dusty roads to nowhere, at least before the grotesqueries started piling on.  Moretz, Lively, and Redmayne all put in stellar performances with Redmayne being the disturbing highlight as someone trying to keep up the image of a tough cowboy while fighting the dark impulses channeled through his childlike brain.

I just don’t want to see any more children get raped and convince themselves this is what they wanted all along, let alone present it as a good thing.  The final shot of Hick does not comfort me.

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Hick (2012)

Directed by Derick Martini.
Screenplay written by Andrea Portes.
Starring Chloe Moretz, Blake Lively, and Eddie Redmayne.

Posted by Andrew

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  1. i strongly agree on this especially the part “Chloe Moretz has a great acting future ahead of her, and no matter how convincingly she’s able to tell herself and others that she’s an adult, the camera keeps reminding us she’s a teenager in a dangerous situation.” i really do admire her of talent and charming personality but seeing her portray person, fictionalized or not, that isn’t appropriate of her age and gender, this somehow disturbs me in every film she is in.

    • Thanks for the comment Blake, and for the observation. Moretz has made a quick specialization in, whether her character wants to or not, embracing situations where she is looked at or pretends to be an adult. From Kick-Ass to Hick, there’s a disturbing amount of fetishization going on. But when that troubling presentation becomes a thoughtful part of the narrative, like in the superb Let Me In, then that forced maturity takes on more tragic depth.

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