Skip to main content

Richie Merritt, left, and Matthew McConaughey star in White Boy Rick.

Scott Garfield/Columbia Pictures

  • White Boy Rick
  • Written by: Andy Weiss, Noah Miller, Logan Miller
  • Directed by: Yann Demange
  • Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Richie Merritt, Bel Powley and Jennifer Jason Leigh
  • Classification: 14A/ 110 minutes

rating

In the 1980s, Nancy Reagan’s naive lifestyle advice was to “just say no” to drugs. Some abided; some did not. White Boy Rick is the vivid, punchy new feature from Yann Demange, the director who dazzled with his gritty Belfast war story ’71 in 2014. Here he has the charismatic young actor Richie Merritt in the titular role in a true story: Ricky Wershe Jr. was a baby-faced rock-cocaine seller who dabbled in snitching and who successfully interloped in Detroit’s African-American urban decay. He’s all vernacular, wispy mustache and ethnically confused bling.

His father (played with solid mullet-haired commitment by Matthew McConaughey) is a small-time gun-runner with a heart of gold, barely holding his family together with streetwise advice and the VHS-era dream of owning a video store. Other characters (such as his sister, portrayed with harrowing authenticity by Bel Powley) are underdeveloped. It’s a working-class story, albeit one that doesn’t involve officially recognized "work,” which raises questions about police corruption and racially slanted drug policies. Speaking of questions, why is a white character being held up as a shining symbol of the black man’s plight? Something to consider. Otherwise, White Boy Rick has much to say yes to.

White Boy Rick opens Sept. 14

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter
To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies