When was the last time a movie shocked you?
We’re not talking about a torrent of blood and guts, or the umpteenth improbable plot twist. Imagine a scene that completely catches the viewer off guard.
We get such a moment in the Scandinavian import “Good Boy,” one of the year’s nastiest surprises. The less said about the story, the better, but just know it touches on dating mores, cultural upheaval and, of course, the oldest canard in the dating handbook.
Must love dogs.
Sigrid (Katrine Lovise Øpstad Fredriksen) just wants to meet a nice man, and she thinks she struck gold with Christian (Gard Løkke). He’s tall, handsome, a whiz in the kitchen and, as she learns later, obscenely rich.
There’s just one catch (and there always is, right?).
Christian lives with a grown man who pretends to be a dog named Frank. Yes, Frank wears a furry blue/gray dog costume complete with a snout. It’s not remotely convincing, but his constant panting and fidelity to the part sure is.
Deal breaker you say? Not to Sigrid, who is a bit of a mess but desperate to be open to any new experience. The film’s commentary on dating tropes and our collective tolerance is delicious and understated.
Sigrid pushes forward, spending more time with Christian and even scratching Frank behind his fake ears.
At this point, we crave more information about the Christian-Frank dynamic, which is why the plot summary portion of this review is officially over.
Just know first-time filmmaker Scandinavian filmmaker Viljar Bøe tells his story with maximum efficiency while letting the key players reveal themselves in tantalizing bursts.
Sigrid is always late, spends too much time on her phone and isn’t sure where her studies will take her. She’s still a kind, soul open to almost anything.
That trait will come in handy.
Christian is a control freak, but there’s a sadness to his immaculate exterior. It may explain his unique living arrangement.
“Good Boy” unleashes its surprise mid-movie, turning a tightly coiled curiosity into a profoundly entertaining affair.
There’s a catch here, too.
— Simon (Dark Angel) (@RealmofHorror) August 16, 2023
The film’s third act requires an extreme suspension of disbelief, but if you consider the surreal setup it doesn’t take much effort. It’s far easier to get lost in the story, one that feels vibrant and open to interpretation.
Is this a commentary on the male/female dating dynamic? Our willingness to accept almost any cultural deviation for fear of being labeled a hater, or worse? Does “Good Boy” slay the PatriarchyTM far better than “Barbie” ever could?
It’s hard to get “Good Boy” out of your head. Even better? It’s impossible to look away once Frank enters the frame.
HiT or Miss: “Good Boy” brims with meaty topics, all wrapped in a brisk, 80-minute tear.