The McConaissance has likely cooled off a bit for Matthew McConaughey since his Oscar win for Dallas Buyers Club and his series of high-profile projects that made people forget his romantic comedy past. That doesn’t mean his projects aren’t worthy of your attention or aren’t still aiming for quality. It just means critics have shifted their focus elsewhere once again. It’s natural. McConaughey is still doing quality work despite some stumbles with projects like The Dark Tower, Sea Of Trees, and Free State of Jones. His latest looks like it might be a bit of redemption, though, with shades of films like Blow or Donnie Brasco coming to mind.
White Boy Rick from production company Studio 8 is the story of 15-year-old Rick — Richard Wershe Jr. — and his father in 1980s Detroit. As you can see in the trailer, the family has a lot of heart and a penchant for the dramatic, demonstrated by McConaughey pulling an assault rifle from his trunk. From there we get some drugs tossed in, trouble with the local toughs, some police interaction, and 15-year-old Rick becoming the youngest FBI informant in history according to Deadline:
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.
Probably should be a spoiler alert there, but no story of drugs and criminal behavior ends well unless it’s The Wolf Of Wall Street. The real Richard Wershe Jr. was an informant by fourteen and tossed aside by the FBI at seventeen, eventually selling cocaine on his own and receiving a life sentence after his arrest in 1987 according to The New Yorker:
Wershe was sentenced under arguably the most merciless drug statute ever conceived in the nation, Michigan’s so-called 650-Lifer Law, which, at the time, mandated a term of life without parole for possession of more than six hundred and fifty grams of cocaine or heroin. (Not even the Rockefeller laws ruled out parole for a one-time drug offense.) The Michigan statute was amended in 1998, to give judges some leeway and to retroactively allow for the possibility of parole.
Wershe Jr. was paroled in 2017 after serving 30 years in prison. It should be an interesting film, with McConaughey, Bruce Dern, Piper Laurie, and newcomer Richie Merritt doing the heavy lifting. It also could be a way to get prepared for McConaughey in Harmony Korine’s The Beach Bum later in the year.