White Boy Rick

The rise and fall of teen drug dealer Rick Wershe Jr is explored in White Boy Rick, the new film from Yann Demange. It looks great, but unfortunately lacks the intensity of Demange's previous film, Belfast thriller ’71

Film Review by Tom Charles | 06 Dec 2018
  • White Boy Rick
Film title: White Boy Rick
Director: Yann Demange
Starring: Richie Merritt, Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rory Cochrane
Release date: 7 Dec
Certificate: 15

Yann Demange’s follow-up to his intense Belfast thriller ’71 keeps the attention to period detail, but scales back the tension.

Inspired by the story of Richard Wershe Jr (Merritt), who at 14 became an undercover informant for local and federal law enforcement agencies in mid-80s Detroit, White Boy Rick is as much about its location as it is about its titular character – if not more so. Set in the moribund Motor City, the once-thriving metropolis that, once it collapsed economically, became the ideal setting for Paul Verhoeven’s dystopian future in RoboCop. Tat Radcliffe’s cinematography does excellent work of capturing a city that’s worn thin and patchy, just like its denizens, and where the only (literal) spots of brightness come from the life-sucking light of neon tube lighting.

Merritt’s performance as Wershe Jr. has the feeling of verisimilitude, but it’s also cripplingly listless and pales in comparison with Matthew McConaughey’s infinitely more engaging turn as Wershe’s father, Ricky Sr.

Released by Sony