Actions speak louder than words and that can’t be more true with Rich Hill. This is a snapshot of the struggle of three boys in Rich Hill, a rural area of Missouri, seventy miles south of Kansas City. They each have different stories, but all crave the same thing: stability.
The boys have a seemingly endless amount of optimism despite their dire circumstances. Andrew’s family moves constantly, but he’s continually upbeat and hopes every new place will be their permanent home. Harley lives with his grandma because his mom is in prison and is dealing with issues that no one should have to endure, but manages to keep a smile on his face. Appachey is on his own in a dilapidated house and is that “weird” kid in school that doesn’t fit in but is really a big teddy bear.
As someone who was raised in a small town in Missouri, I have witnessed the type of plight that befalls these boys. Although I thought the film was able to capture the essence of rural “poor” life, it lacked a context that was desperately needed. This is an isolated town. If you live in Rich Hill, Missouri, you would have to drive at about 60 miles to go to a Starbucks, and you have to go to the next town if you want McDonald’s.
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It’s tough to understand the feeling of isolation and helplessness these boys feel if you don’t know what they go through. What the film doesn’t show (or does), is the lack of encouragement they receive from people around them. It’s a sad situation, but often the parents need their children so desperately that they inadvertently make them feel helpless to escape the poverty. These are people living day-to-day and week-to-week. They don’t think about politics or anything outside of their own world. That stuff just doesn’t matter.
I had a really hard time with this movie. It affected me so much that it caused me to put off writing about it for weeks. Yes, it was amazingly shot and captured intimate moments, but I couldn’t help but keep thinking, over and over, that they will most likely never have a better life. There is no one in their lives to show them other possibilities and encourage them to dream. It makes me incredibly sad.