‘White Boy Rick’ a smashing success

Parker Otto

Sept. 7’s release “White Boy Rick” has hit theaters with great performances, heart-wrenching scenes and an unbelievable true story, making the film one of the best new releases in recent months.

The film follows 14-year-old Rick Wershe Jr., played by Richie Merrit in his first film debut, as he acts as a drug dealer and FBI informant in 1980s Detroit. Accompanied by his father, played by Matthew McConaughey, Rick enjoys the comforts and endures the hardships of his decisions as he seeks to make a better life for himself and his family.

The film’s performances are what make it so enjoyable. Not only is this Merrit’s first film role, but this is also his only acting credit, according to IMDb. Based on the amount of effort Merrit puts into his role, one could swear he’s been acting since he spouted his first word. His evolution from a small-time dealer to a mole to a drug boss is very well done, and all of three of these roles are around for the right amount of time.

McConaughey is magnificent as well. After his Oscar winning role in 2013’s “Dallas Buyers Club” and his iconic role in 1993’s “Dazed and Confused,” it appears McConaughey excels in any film with some illegal substance in it.

His role as Rick Wershe Sr. is shrouded in grey shades. He’s not an evil man, but he’s no angel either. He just wants to provide for his family by whatever means necessary, which makes him very identifiable.

Not all the film is filled with the glitz and glamour of kingpin life; the horrific reality of drugs is shown in detail. One of the most intense scenes shows Rick Jr.’s sister, played by Bel Powley, going through withdrawal after a heroin addiction.

The violence is brutal, unforgiving and, at times, shocking. One gunshot comes out of nowhere, and a gasp could be heard in the theater when it occurred.

The lighting of the film is something to be praised. Many scenes occur with minimal lighting in dark streets, which further express the emotion of the actors. In a moment where McConaughey ponders while sitting in his car, the lighting is reminiscent of Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2011 film “Drive.” The only lighting available are the pale streetlights which amplify the characters sinister intentions.

With a great sense of character, a realistic tone and well-crafted scenes, “White Boy Rick” is a fantastic addition to this fall’s lineup of movies. If one wishes to disprove the expression “nobody likes a rat,” look no further than “White Boy Rick.”