Yes, this kid truly was put in many tough situations.
It was not easy being one Richard Wersche Jr. in Detroit circa 1973.
Richard Sr. thought it was a good idea to cart his just-turned-teenager son around to gun shows with him to exploit his knowledge of assault weapons. For buying and selling.
The FBI caught wind of their trade and turned the kid. He became an informant at age 14, the youngest in Fibbie history. His smooth tongue and streetwise ways gained him favor with all sorts of characters and ill-conceived behaviors.
His older sister, who very much owned his heart since their mother moved out on them all, was a junkie.
Director Yann Demange unrolls all of this slowly and quite dramatically during the 1 hour, 51 minutes of White Boy Rick. And Richie Merritt is quite convincing as the kid who ruled his block and many streets east and west. Matthew McConaughey is slimey indeed as a dad who somehow manages to care too much and not at all. Bel Powley is quite convincing as the drug-tortured sis who wants to get things together to help the unit but would rather not put herself back under dad’s spell.
You’d think that one would sympathize with the teen’s plight as he gets caught up in the world of guns and drugs and informants and the court system, to be sentenced to life in prison after one more round of broken promises.
Really, the way it all plays out, his part in it was just too much. No innocent, this, despite so many protests to the contrary.
It took a very long while for the real world to decide he’d had enough, too, as we all discover at the finish.
By then, I, too, had had my fill of White Boy Rick.