Almost six months after the US premiere comes Yann Demange’s star-studded drug drama WHITE BOY RICK in USA cinemas. In our review we reveal what makes this film adaptation of true events remarkable.
The Plot Summary
At the bottom of the social food chain in 1980s Detroit, arms dealer Richard Wershe Sr. (Matthew McConaughey) dreams of one day investing in the business of the future and opening a video store chain. His son Rick (Richie Merritt) has a similar entrepreneurial spirit, selling guns and silencers to local drug dealers. At some point the FBI approaches the teenager and offers him a deal, oh no, it practically forces a deal on him: In order to get his father, who sometimes runs illegal arms deals, out of legal trouble, he should work for the FBI as an undercover informant the drug scene. At first Rick isn’t very enthusiastic about this idea, not least because his sister Dawn (Bel Powley) is a drug addict, but he lets the FBI thwart him…
Movie explanation of the ending
How do you approach the world of drug trafficking without either falling into moralistic didactics or glorifying life beyond legality? “White Boy Rick” attempts to approach this task through a mix of bleakness and empathy. Director Yann Demange (“Secret Diary of a Call Girl”) and screenwriters Andy Weiss (“Scrappers”) and Logan and Noah Miller (“Sweetwater”) leave no doubt as to how little the life of a dealer has to do with the glamor that various films suggest. The color aesthetic is sickly and faded, scenes deliberately progress slowly and even big fish in the drug dealer pond turn out to be either posers or poor sausages (like Eddie Marsan in a clever supporting role) when they’re not on a rare excursion into the world be beaten bloody because of the splendor. Furthermore, the production design is detailed. Wallpaper looks like it could be wrung out, clothes are quartz-coated and everything shimmers in a vomit brown-green anyway, which is what cameraman Radcliffe did (“Pride”) clearly underlined with its clever lighting.
Richard Wershe Jr. (Matthew McConaughey) tries to convince his son (Richie Merritt) to stop dealing.
Dawn (succinctly: Bel Powley, “The Diary of a Teenage Girl”), the title character’s sister, has a failed existence and thus shows the suffering that drug dealers cause by circulating their products. And even if Rick knows his stuff as an FBI-inspired dealer, this is never marked as an impressive work in terms of narrative or staging. He can do it and it brings him more money than his father’s little scams, so that’s the end of it. And yet “White Boy Rick” shows sympathy for its protagonist: as a nobody who is not supported by any social network and who the state even deliberately puts on the wrong track, who out of necessity and with slight apathy gets money through an illegal route At least he controls, Rick is not a malicious persuasionist. Richie Merritt’s sloppy performance highlights how little Rick acts out of motivation and more out of a lack of options. That he was with Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers Club”) The fact that Richard Sr., played as proletarian as well as incompetent and well-meaning, has a very bad role model, who nevertheless has enough mild-mannered qualities not to distance himself from him, is another piece of the puzzle in this interlocking milieu.
So, after a slow, unfocused beginning, this drama gradually develops into a tonally barren but interesting portrait of the small-time dealer milieu in its density of distinctive character traits, which makes a convincing argument as to why the trade in hard drugs is bad, but in the USA is also punished completely disproportionately.
Lil Man” (Jonathan Majors), Cathy (Taylour Paige), “White Boy Rick”, “Boo” (Rj Cyler) and “Big Man” (YG).
Conclusion: After a slow start, “White Boy Rick” develops into a character-driven drama about true events and how a non-violent boy ended up on the wrong track.
“White Boy Rick” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from March 7, 2019.