Sunday, May 3, 2020

The (female) worm turns in Abner Pastoll/Ronan Blaney's A GOOD WOMAN IS HARD TO FIND

One can only assume that the filmmakers of A GOOD WOMAN IS HARD TO FIND mean their title to be taken ironically (and not simply because of their diddling  with Flannery O'Connor's famous short-story title), since every last woman we meet in this movie is pretty damned good. Every single man, however -- save one lone trash collector, who pays dearly for his decency -- is a piece of shit.

Thankfully, neither director Abner Pastoll (shown below) nor screenwriter Ronan Blaney underscores this fact. Over time, it simply exists and builds, and so we make of it what we will.

What we make of this duo's new movie is something else again. Though highly praised as "painfully real," "kitchen sink drama," and a "refreshingly astute gangster thriller," it strikes TrustMovies as none of the above but rather a put-upon-woman-gets-her-revenge brand of entertainment that's very bloody, not very believable, but a lot of nasty fun.

Think of it as Death Wish meets feminism with an Irish twist.

The story concerns a single mother (Sarah Bolger, above and below), widowed via the murder of her husband that appears to have left her young son (who witnessed the event) mute and her only slightly older daughter given to repeating certain words, one of which helps kick the coincidence-prone plot into high-gear.

Pastoll and Blaney's plot is serviceable and the pacing here is smart and swift, so before we know it, we're pretty much hooked and wondering just how our pretty young widow can get herself and her kids (below) out of this fix with their bodies and souls intact.

The males on view -- whether they be cops, crooks, or the security guard at the local market -- are utter swine. The lead gangster, played by Edward Hogg, is one of those criminal clichés who possesses not one redeeming feature nor even a single even pleasant moment to view or hear. He's a vicious, nasty, loves-to-torture-and-kill creep, the likes of whom you probably have not seen on screen for at least a day or two.

The bad guy who sets things in motion is a petty drug-dealer (nicely played by Andrew Simpson, above) who does have maybe one-quarter of a redeeming feature (he gives our mom her share of his drug sales). But, as usual, for the men here, women are seen as nothing more than a necessary appendage for pleasure or perhaps something utilitarian  Things come to a head pretty quickly -- Tito and Yugoslavia figure amusingly into the mix --  and before you can say, Get me an axe, our girl is up to her ears in blood and body parts.

There's a sad and lovely turn from Jane Brennan as Bolger's mom, and their scene together toward the finale marks the highpoint of real feeling in the film. Otherwise, it's a straight-ahead, feel-bad but feel-good-about-revenge tale, told well enough to help fill the current Corona-fueled void.

From Film Movement and running 97 minutes, A Good Woman Is Hard to Find hits On-Demand and Digital this coming Tuesday, May 8 -- for purchase and/or rental.

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