‘White Boy Rick’ Can’t Quite Connect The Dots [Telluride Review]

The Playlist | 9/4/2018 | Gregory Ellwood
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TELLURIDE – What happened to Richard Wershe Jr. isn’t great. As a 14-year-old he somehow found himself working as an informant for the FBI. Within three years he was making significant money as a low-level drug dealer in his hometown of Detroit, Michigan. And after that? Well, feel free to Google it to find out or you can catch a version of Rick’s life in Yann Demange’s “White Boy Rick” which debuted at the 2018 Telluride Film Festival this past weekend.

The movie first introduces us to Rick (newcomer Richie Merritt) and his father Richard (Matthew McConaughey) at a local gun show. The two pair up to intimidate a gun dealer into giving them AK-47’s at a below market price displaying a sales skill that has been passed on from one generation to the other. The older Wershe barely makes his living re-selling guns under the table, but dreams of eventually opening up his own video store as a more legitimate living. Rick’s mother left the family years before (although in real life it appears Rick had some sort of relationship with her) while his older sister Dawn (Bel Powley) and grandparents (Bruce Dern and Piper Laurie thankfully on hand for comic relief) make up his immediate family.

Age - Rick - Guts - Fear - AK-47

Even at this young age, Rick has guts and he has no visible fear of trying to sell those AK-47’s his father purchased to the biggest drug dealer in the neighborhood, Johnny “Lil Man” Curry (Jonathan Majors). The head of a primarily African-American crime operation, Lil Man is intrigued by the kid and welcomes him into the fold where he becomes good friends with “Boo” Curry (RJ Cyler), who is closer to Rick’s age. Rick’s new affiliation is almost immediately noticed by two FBI agents (Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rory Cochrane) who are looking for...
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