“We’re not trash. We’re good people,” says Andrew, one of the three adolescent boys portrayed in this achingly empathetic film about left-behind America, set in the small and ironically named town of Rich Hill, Mo.
Fifteen-year-old Harley, whose mom is in jail for attempted murder, struggles in school and, despite his good humour and charm, suffers from a traumatic sexual assault. Thirteen-year-old Appachey, a skateboarder fan with a high-flying artistic imagination, has a violent temper that could portend a future in long-term incarceration. The most hopeful case is the sweet-tempered Andrew, who gently excuses his father, a part-time Hank Williams impersonator, for his chronic disinclination to hold a full-time job.
The confluence of poverty, dysfunctional parenting and poor educational prospects makes the oft-idealized small-town life look like an incubator for failure, no matter how high and spectacular the Fourth of July fireworks fly.