White Boy Rick

Rated 2.0

French director Yann Demange made an electrifying feature debut in 2014 with the tightly wound period thriller ’71, but the expansive crime drama of follow-up film White Boy Rick proves beyond his grasp. The film tells the story of Richard Wershe, Jr., the teenage son of a gun dealer who became a street dealer, an FBI informant and a drug kingpin in 1980s Detroit. Demange never manages to build any story momentum, and a prevalent structural chaos suggests a troubled post-production. White Boy Rick would have been helped by having a more dynamic lead actor in the title role, but newcomer Richie Merritt barely registers, and so it’s never clear why everyone is so enamored with the kid. Matthew McConaughey co-stars as Rick’s father, letting his mullet and mustache do most of the acting, while Bel Powley plays his drug-addicted sister and Jennifer Jason Leigh plays a pitiless FBI agent.