Review: The working-class elegy ‘Holler’ expresses a desire to escape with real grit


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A lot more hard for teenage Ruth Avery (Jessica Barden), tougher than it should be. She’s clever, selling homework for cash and stealing library books because her poor attendance record won’t let her check them out. Ruth is possessed of a hard, scrappy intuition honed simply by survival instincts, because Ruth and her brother Blaze (Gus Halper) are on their own. Alone. With mom ( Pamela Adlon ) detoxing in county jail, the siblings recycle cans for rent cash, but it just doesn’t cut it. In their depressed Kentkucky town of Jackson, the former president intones, “Jobs, work opportunities, jobs, ” on the radio, but the only talk of careers here are the ones being outsourced overseas.

Nicole Riegel’s directorial debut “Holler” is an unflinching autobiographical function about what it takes to raise oneself out of this marginalized lifetime. It’s not just the merits associated with intelligence or hard work intended for someone like Ruth, but a willingness to lose the only things she has, almost everything she’s known.

Shot on Super 16mm on location, there’s a gritty realism to Riegel’s work, found in the movie grain and the dark completely stopped using buildings where Ruth and Blaze strip copper wire from the ceilings, working as part of an illegal scrap team. Blaze has sent in Ruth’s college application, and her acceptance ignites the fantasy in both of them that the lady might escape. All they require is a little money, and so they use the menacing scrap seller Hark (Austin Amelio). With him, they find company and the promise of revenue, despite the inherent dangers.


English actress Barden has steadily built an impressive body of work in her profession thus far, especially in indie films like “The New Romantic” and “Jungleland. ” In “Holler, ” she gives herself over completely to this world, melding into the rhythms and textures, becoming as authentic as the encounters it’s based on. She gets the vessel to express Riegel’s quiet cri de coeur, which is not just yearning to escape one’s own circumstances however the absolute necessity of it.


Rated: R, for language plus sexual references

Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Monica, Santa claus Monica; Laemmle Playhouse seven, Santa Monica