After the shocking victory of Donald Trump in 2016, there has been a certain obsession, a fetishization even, of the “white working class.” This amorphous group of Appalachia dwellers, “hill people” as MawMaw (Glenn Close) calls them, have been the subject of intense scrutiny. They’ve been focus grouped, polled and interviewed in every rural diner the New York Times could get a reporter to, all in search of an explanation for our most unexpected president.
It’s no wonder that, when a young lawyer/venture capitalist documented the hardships he suffered emerging from that world, his memoir became a sensation. With Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance purported an explanation for the Appalachian conundrum, and now Ron Howard has brought that story to screens across America.
At times I think that animation is the most misunderstood genre. To even call it a genre may be a mischaracterization. The medium has been so monopolized by Disney’s singular vision of adventure seeking princesses and peasants that more mature fare gets overlooked. Animated in the playful style of a children’s picture book and focusing on two girls who can magically transform into wolves, Wolfwalkers may not seem like grown-up cinema, but appearances can be deceiving.