Director: Derick Martini
MPAA Rating: R
There’s an odd streak running through the middle of Hick that makes it hard to decide what to say about it. Its part road-trip movie, part coming-of-age drama, 100% off-kilter and more than a little bit strange.
Based on the novel by Andrea Portes, Hick tells the tale of Luli McMullen (Chloe Moretz), a 13-year old who, in a fit of frustration regarding her alcoholic parents, packs up her belongings and takes off toward Las Vegas.
Along the way, she meets a quiet, unsettling drifter (Eddie Redmayne), a young grafter/con-artist (Blake Lively) and a handful of other quirky, off-center characters.
The problem with the film, though, is that it seems like it cannot decide whether to play it safe and go the sensitive route or go full bore exploitation.
Like the novel, the movie plays up Luli’s budding sexuality, but it doesn’t seem to know how far it wants to take it. At times, director and co-writer Derick Martini seems to want to push the envelope, putting then 13-year old Moretz in tight and/or revealing clothing and shooting her to emphasize her youthful beauty. At others, it is as if he’s afraid he’s gone too far and puts on the brakes.
This kind of indecision capsizes the entire movie. It doesn’t know what it wants to be, and because of that, the movie actually gets worse as it goes along.
The longer the film goes on, the more rushed it seems until the ending comes almost out of nowhere. There are small scenes that seem to have no point whatsoever but I am guessing probably play a bigger part in the source material. The most glaring example of this is the appearance of Rory Kulkin, who shows up out of nowhere for 5 minutes to convince Luli to partake in a drinking game, and then is gone just as quickly. Later on, Alec Baldwin pops up during the last 15 minutes and before the movie is over, his appearance becomes key to Luli’s journey.
The strangest thing about Hick, though, is that matter how awful the movie becomes, there’s a can’t-look-away quality to it, half because of yet another fantastic performance by Chloe Moretz and half because you almost can’t wait to see what else the filmmakers could possibly to do make the movie worse. There are long stretches of the film where nothing at all seems to happen, but there’s a strange intensity to this ‘nothing’ that is hard to describe.
I have a feeling that had the film been made with a bit more confidence, there could have been something good here. In the end, though, Hick is simply not very good. There are moments where it does manage to get under your skin a little bit, but the same can be said of splinters.