How many ‘oh, come ON!’ moments can you stomach in one film?
If it’s a “Fast and Furious” sequel, you’re probably talking a Baker’s Dozen. What about a gritty tale of a mother pushed too far, like “A Good Woman Is Hard to Find?”
You’ve suddenly got much less wiggle room, and that’s by design. It’s a shame, then, that “A Good Woman” goes the full Vin Diesel anyway, the main reason it’s a hard, maddening pass.
Sarah Bolger is the main reason to give “A Good Woman” any consideration. She plays Sarah, a newly widowed mom of two adorable tykes. Sarah can barely make a living in her blue collar Irish town, and she’s saddled with a mother devoid of sympathy.
Sarah’s life is about to get worse.
Soon after the story opens a drug dealer who stole from his mates randomly selects her home as his hiding place. And that’s when the first of many, “oh, come ON!” moments arrives.
We’ll spoil Eye Roll Number One to set the scene. Tito the drug dealer (Andrew Simpson, effective) wants to use Sarah’s home as a regular place to stash his goods and stay hidden from his ex colleagues. And she agrees, rather than calling the police the second Tito steps out the door.
Really? Remember, she has two kids in her house.
Even if she doesn’t trust the local police, and she doesn’t, why would she stick around for his return?
— Rue Morgue (@RueMorgue) May 6, 2020
The movie strains to connect Sarah’s late husband to the story in question, a manipulative ploy that doesn’t bring much payoff. Sarah’s Mom is monstrous at times, but then again so is every single person on camera -- save those kiddies.
Is director Abner Pastoll commenting on the harsh life women lead, a slam against The PatriarchyTM? If so, it’s absurdly heavy handed, with a blunt tone that goes against every other element in the film.
Until the finale, that is.
Here, we get a generous dose of grindhouse glee, but it’s not even staged for maximum impact. In fact, you know exactly the big twist minutes before it happens.
Other dialogue snippets tease out socially relevant themes, from disillusioned youth finding solace in crime to taking whatever steps are necessary to survive.
Sorry. Vigilante movies don’t need no stinkin’ speeches. The story says it all.
Plus, “A Good Woman” trots out an extended torture-porn sequence that stops everything cold. And we mean everything. The film’s biggest selling point is how swiftly the story moves.
Not here, though.
The camera spares us nothing, which proves both uncomfortable and unnecessary. Is this a thriller, a character study or a kissing cousin to the “Hostel” franchise? Pick a lane, please. The film’s score can’t match the movie’s meandering mood, but what could? It’s still occasionally effecting, jarring and original.
Poor Sarah spends three-fourths of the movie sabotaging herself. She makes so many calamitous choices she should hang up an Anti Life Coach shingle. Just do the opposite of what Sarah says, folks, and you’ll be rich before long!
Still, the Eye Roll Moment of the decade comes later, just as astute viewers realize Sarah may be in the clear unless … something profoundly stupid happens. And it does!
Chalk it all up as lazy, borderline dumb, empowerment theater. Yes, what we think of as a distinctly American scourge -- Woke Cinema -- finds a foothold here in this Irish dud.
HiT or Miss: “A Good Woman Is Hard to Find” boasts a great leading lady and more forehead smacking twists than any movie should offer.