Every now and then a film comes along with such a dramatic story, that it stays with you long after you leave the theater. Such is the case with “White Boy Rick,” starring the ever-capable Matthew McConaughey and young new talent Richie Merritt as father and son.
Based on a true story, “White Boy Rick” follows the disturbing saga of Richard Wershe, Sr. and Rick Wershe, Jr. If this is the way justice is served in our democracy, then we all have something to worry about.
Set in a down-and-out neighborhood of Detroit, this is not a pretty film. It involves big guns, gritty situations, and the detritus of lives lived in too much poverty to bear. Dependency on heavy drugs and the drug dealers who supply them plague most of the people in this circle. As with several of his other roles, McDonaughey’s portrayal of Wershe, Jr. offers a glimpse of the complexities of this man who loves his family, but has no capacity to raise them from the despair created by this harsh environment.
Wershe, Jr. deals in guns, mostly legal, but not always so. Sometimes he makes a few extra bucks turning out silencers in his basement. His wife left him and his two children a long time ago. His daughter Dawn (Bel Powley) has gone to the dark side of drug addiction and moved out. His fifteen-year old son Wershe, Jr. flirts with the local drug-dealing garage gangs and decides he wants in on the action.
Fast cars, hot women, and more cash than he can spend look way too attractive to a kid who’s already dropped out of school. The company Wershe, Jr. keeps attracts attention, but that doesn’t stop the flow of drugs and money.
Then everything changes one day when he’s approached by the FBI to be an informant. What unfolds next involves a series of deceptions, broken trusts, and governmental fast-talk.
Suffice to say, the information that comes rolling across the screen at the end of this film will leave you in suspicion of our country’s most esteemed law enforcement. With no easy answers and no resolution, it is what it is: a wasted life laid bare in a film that may be the only thing that does it justice.
Rated R for language throughout, drug content, violence, some sexual references, and brief nudity.
Marilyn Robitaille writes film reviews for the Stephenville Empire-Tribune and the Glen Rose Reporter.