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"Rich Hill": Youth Versus Small-Town Life 

Tuesday, Aug 19 2014
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The impoverished Rich Hill, Mo., is the kind of place politicians show in commercials to prove they're in touch with the Real America, a small town where the name is printed on the water tower and the residents chant "USA! USA!" unironically on the Fourth of July. Andrew Droz Palermo and Tracy Droz Tragos' free-form documentary follows three teenage residents: 14-year-old Andrew has the closest thing to stability in spite of his father constantly uprooting them in search of the next get-rich-quick scheme; 13-year-old Appachey is prone to fits of rage, may well be on the Asperger's spectrum, and lives in a small, filthy house with his regretful mother and many siblings; and 15-year-old Harley, who is also prone to violence, and who lives with his grandmother while his mother sits in prison for attempting to murder the stepfather who did unforgivable things to Harley. Rich Hill doesn't have a specific arc or narrative thrust, and there's no indication that the three boys even know each other. It's more of an observation of damaged youth persevering during harsh times, never quite giving up on the erstwhile American dream — or, to paraphrase another film about youngsters wandering through a Depression-blighted landscape, children are humanity at its strongest. They abide.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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