American Hollow | Chicago Reader

American Hollow

Rory Kennedy is the youngest child of Robert Kennedy (she was getting married on the day of the fatal John Kennedy Jr. crash), and her compassionate, leftist documentaries are a testament to her father's final days. For American Hollow she spent months living in the ramshackle Appalachian homestead of her salt-of-the-earth protagonist, Iree Bowling, the 68-year-old matriarch of a sprawling hillbilly clan of 13 grown children and 30 grandchildren. They have no plumbing, little education, and little money; they drink and get sent to jail. But they have humor, fortitude, and family togetherness. If a Bowling gets in trouble, another Bowling will be there. It's a great story, told with feeling and humanity. In the finest episode a teenage Bowling falls madly in love with a local girl and plans to marry her. When she ditches him, his young mother gives him a shoulder to bawl on.


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