White Boy Rick
A teenager falls into a life of crime.
“Many people dream of making a modern-day film noir, and in terms of style, White Boy Rick comes close,” said Stephen Farber in The Hollywood Reporter. Set in 1980s Detroit, the movie re-creates the gritty texture of a city in decline that’s falling into the grip of the crack-cocaine epidemic. Where the movie disappoints is in its failure to present characters who “compel audiences in the way that the great noir antiheroes did.” Newcomer Richie Merritt plays the real-life title character, a teenager whose father sells guns to drug dealers and who is eventually pressured by the FBI into becoming a drug informant. Merritt is solid and Matthew McConaughey “disappears into his role” as the flawed but caring Rick Sr. Unfortunately, though, the movie marginalizes the story’s black characters and doesn’t find enough drama in what’s left. Only at the very end do we get the true story’s “most fascinating twist,” said Eric Kohn in IndieWire.com. When 17-year-old Rick was busted for cocaine possession, the FBI abandoned him, letting him be sentenced to life in prison. Even then, the movie “can’t overcome its selective sense of moral outrage,” said Jake Cole in SlantMagazine.com. By presenting a white kid as particularly undeserving of the draconian penalty, White Boy Rick “validates the punitive system it seeks to criticize.”
Scott Garfield, Kimberley French, Jarred Alterman ■