Don’t Leave A Stranger: Nicole Riegel and Jessica Barden on Holler
AnonymousJune 11, 2021 at 10:20 AM
In coming-of-age drama “Holler,” a young woman named Ruth (Jessica Barden) struggles to escape her economically ravaged hometown of Jackson, Ohio, where dead ends are piling up.
With older brother Blaze (Gus Halper) preoccupied by their drug-addicted mother (Pamela Adlon), who’s in jail, Ruth knows her options at home are limited, especially as more factories close each month. After she’s accepted to college, Ruth and Gus join a scrap metal crew, hoping to make enough for her to attend even as their already arduous work becomes dangerous.
In theaters and on demand this week, “Holler” marks the feature debut of writer-director Nicole Riegel, who grew up in Jackson. Joining the military out of high school, Riegel spent time producing her own plays after her service but soon decamped for Los Angeles, finding success as a screenwriter. For Riegel, making “Holler” meant returning to her roots. “It was surreal to go to those operational factories, film in them, and then hear, ‘Hey, Nicole,’” recalls Riegel, speaking alongside Barden over Zoom. “I’d turn around and see people I went to high school with, who were working in the factories. Our reasons for being there were very different. That was uncomfortable. I didn’t really know what to make of it when it was happening.”
But “Holler” embraces the honesty of that discomfort, delivering the rare working-class story that’s grim and unvarnished without veering into melodrama or trafficking in poverty porn. Instead, in its focus on one young woman weighing her own promising
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