It also doesn't help that the movies just really badly put together, especially when it comes to Vanessa Taylor's script. For starters, the non-linear structure adds nothing to the film. It's another way Hillbilly Elegy is always on the move to distract you from how little it offers. There's also the fatally bad habit of how it leans on narration instead of showing crucial information. For instance, we're told through voice-over that Beverly had a close relationship with her father ("He was the only one who 'got' her") just as she's grieving his death. They have never even hinted at that kind of relationship before now. If they had, maybe the death of the grandfather would have meant something, anything at all.
Hillbilly Elegy is bad on numerous levels, but it's especially egregious on a character level. I never got a sense for why I should care about Vance as a character and I got even less of a sense of Beverly and Bonnie as human beings separate from creating drama in Vance's life. Worse, the town Vance lives in and his neighbors never get developed as fleshed-out figures. All Hillbilly Elegy cares about is lingering and gawking at these cash-strapped townspeople as a cautionary tale for where Vance could have ended up. This is a movie that doesn't treat Appalachian residents as people, they're barely even props in this narrative.
The only amusing note in the whole project, apart from a flashback scene where Bonnie sets her husband on fire, is how Hillbilly Elegy glosses over how exactly Vance got to a Yale college. Despite closing narration about how "we all choose" where our lives end up (systemic financial inequality and addiction as a sickness do not exist in this universe apparently), Vance's education situation was also in the hands of others, as he got there through a scholarship. It's another strange narrative note in a movie that has a dehumanizing approach to the poor. Amazingly, that's not even the worst part of Hillbilly Elegy. That honor goes to watching Amy Adams in this, what a criminal waste of her talent.