FROM director Ron Howard, Hillbilly Elegy has awards contender written all over it. Everywhere, that is, except in its writing.

The film is taken from JD Vance’s best-selling, if polarising, 2016 memoir: ‘Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis’. It, like the book, tells the tale of a young Vance pulling himself from white, working-class poverty in the very embodiment of the American dream. Though brought up in the aptly named city of Middletown, Ohio, Vance relates his upbringing more so to his mother’s ‘hillbilly’ origins and the Appalachian history handed to him via her predecessors.

Tired of living with said mother’s drug addiction - and selfish, mean-spirited personality - Vance moves to live with his vitriolic Grandmother, This is a story concerned principally with cycles, and the battle that one faces to break them. As such, there is overlap to be found in the two maternal influences on Vance’s childhood. The former is played by Amy Adams and the latter by Glenn Close.

It takes no zealously critical eye to spot the efforts going into the performances here. Indeed, Adams and Close alike give it their all under layer after layer of make up and prosthetics. Such work is impressive in itself. Watch for the moment in the credits in which authentic photographs allow viewers to admire just how closely the production has managed to real life people.

And this is where the most glaring flaw of Hillbilly Elegy rears its head. As written by The Shape of Water’s Vanessa Taylor, neither Adams’ Bev nor Close’s Memaw ever truly feel like real people. Rather, the pervading niggle is that one always feels like one is simply watching actors perform. Worse still is the film’s own faith in its ability to lead the pair straight to the Oscars. Showcase scenes pepper sequences of perpetual misery, which ebbs and flows with depressing consistency.

Many a critic has found objection too in the film’s politics. Certainly, on its release, Vance’s memoir incited consternation from America’s liberal quarters, which complained of unhelpful stereotypes and a backbone of Trumpian anger. Distracted by his own artfulness, Howard deals this hand more bluntly. Instead, this is bleak, drab and dramatically uninspired. Those willing to give the film a shot may do so on Netflix from 24 November.