Set on the backdrop of 1980’s Detroit, White Boy Rick, currently playing at TIFF 2018, strikes a great a great balance between family, greed, and a system that can crush the little guy. The performances, and setting help transport the viewer to a time that at times is filled with wonder, but will leave most watchers with a feeling of loss, and sadness.
In a low-end suburb of Detroit, Richard (Played by McConaughey) is a single dad to a drug addled daughter (Powley), and a wise mouthed, young 14-year-old Rick (Merritt). As Richard, sells guns with Rick to support the family, two FBI agents (Leigh and Cochrane) with the help of a local detective (Henry) look for an opening to exploit the family to take down a dangerous gang. They coworce Rick into a life of crime to entrap the criminal elements, but though a series of events, and mishapps, the ultimate question if the authorities will support Ricks when all the smoke clears.
White Boy Rick is a film that so easily could have failed. There are so many things that have been seen before in other media, yet with Merritt and McConaughey deliver with their performance make the viewing experience, hard, brutal and engaging.
The bumbling antics of the law enforcement at the core of the film show a city held together by threads, where authorities have little idea if what they are doing is right, and are looking for to get an arrest rather then keep the city of Detroit safe. The moral core sits with a criminal family looking to get by, and it will hit many watchers right in the gutt. The gritty telling of events paints every scene with a level of urgency and brutality that make it hard to look away from the screen.
While it is not a perfect film, with a few scenes missing their mark, there is enough to love that makes White Boy Rick a compelling narrative, that will carry most viewers though the near two hour runtime. It is a fantastic work of true crime storytelling, and worth everyone’s dollars when it hits cinemas nationwide.