Film FestivalsMovie ReviewsTIFF 2018: White Boy Rick Review

Keith NoakesSeptember 8, 2018

This will be one of many reviews during this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. If you would like to keep up with our content, click here. For photos of the premiere, check out our social media accounts (link below).

Synopsis: Set in 1980s Detroit at the height of the crack epidemic and the War on Drugs, WHITE BOY RICK is based on the moving true story of a blue-collar father and his teenage son, Rick Wershe Jr., who became an undercover police informant and later a drug dealer, before he was abandoned by his handlers and sentenced to life in prison. (Sony Pictures)

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Richie Merritt, and Bel Powley

Writers: Andy Weiss, Logan Miller, and Noah Miller

Director: Yann Demange

Rating: 14A (Canada)/R (United States)

Running Time: 110mins


Everybody has seen a gangster film but the big draw about this one was said gangster was a 15-year-old kid. However, that wasn’t the whole story here. Based on a true story, this film was about an overly ambitious blue-collar gun dealer father named Rick Wershe (McConaughey) and his teenage son, Rick Jr. (or Ricky) (Merritt), who became an undercover police informant and later a drug dealer, before he was unjustly abandoned by his handlers and sentenced to life in prison. This part of the plot was pretty much revealed across the film’s many trailers, however, there was so much more here.

The film was just as much about the relationship between Rick and Ricky as well as Rick’s daughter and Ricky’s sister Dawn (Powley). With Dawn mostly out of the picture, it was the Rick and Ricky show where Ricky took charge by turning to the wrong side of the law. All Ricky wanted to do was help pull himself and his family out of a tough 1980s Detroit neighborhood. However, the longer he lived that lifestyle, the deeper he got and the more dangerous it became for him. Rick was a support figure for Ricky, however, the deeper he got, the more they drifted apart. Like most of these stories go, getting out would prove to be difficult and getting caught was inevitable.

The best part of the film was the performances from the entire Wershe family and their chemistry. McConaughey was sensational as Rick. He got top billing but he had more of a supporting role. He was an overly ambitious and positive because he was too stuck in the past to pay attention to the present but he still loved his kids. Merritt excelled as Ricky and was compelling to watch which was even more impressive considering he carried the film in what was his first film role.

Overall, this was a decent true life rise and fall story with a sharp script and even better performances. McConaughey was sensational but Richie Merritt is going to be a name to watch out for in the future.

Score: 8/10

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