A Good Woman Is Hard to Find

 

starstarhalf

 


Quality work in a film that nevertheless fails to hang together.

 
A Good Woman Is Hard to Find

Sarah Bolger
 

This film is much more interesting than my rating would suggest. It scores twice over but, to a greater or lesser degree (which of those apply may well be a matter of taste), it is undermined by a story that involves two distinct genres and fails to make them cohere. Put to one side the opening image of a blood-stained woman which is actually a preview of things to come and one has a not unrealistic drama which then becomes a horror movie and in the process it leaves credibility far behind.

 

For much of the time Abner Pastoll's film plays like a companion piece to another October release from Signature Entertainment. Both works pivot on a female character having to cope with an extreme but believable event. In American Woman a woman is faced out of the blue with the mysterious disappearance of her teenage daughter: here, Sarah Collins, a mother of two young children, is dealing with the sudden death of her husband. Two things make this death even worse for Sarah: first, that it was a case of unexplained murder by a person unknown and, secondly, that the killing happened in the presence of her six-year-old son, Ben (Rudy Doherty), who is so traumatised that he has stopped speaking.

 

If Sienna Miller's performance was essential to the success of American Woman, it is equally the case that A Good Woman is Hard to Find relies on the excellence of the actress playing Sarah, Sarah Bolger. The domestic scenes also involving her mother (Jane Brennan) and her four-year-old daughter (Macie McCauley) are persuasively handled and Ronan Blaney's screenplay makes it credible when through threats a stranger, Tito (Andrew Simpson), who has stolen drugs from established local dealers, makes Sarah take him in. In contrast, the dealers themselves and their boss man (Edward Hogg), the latter a psychopath, come over as cliché figures while the offbeat dialogue given to the drug lord when at his most menacing suggests an all-too-obvious debt to Quentin Tarantino.

 

Nevertheless, Bolger remains impressive throughout and the other ace in the pack is the inventive direction by Pastoll - just occasionally he may throw in too many edits, but in general the editing is so part and parcel of the film's character that I had already guessed that Pastoll was his own editor before the end credits confirmed it. But what could be thought of as an engaging drama for two thirds of its length then changes track by offering violent scenes which basically belong to the horror genre (the film recently played in London's Fright Fest). Here the movie adheres to the nature of most such films by going way over the top. Those who favour horror films may take this change in their stride, but neither Bolger's nor Pastoll’s contributions could prevent me from ultimately regarding A Good Woman is Hard to Find as a work broken by its inconsistency.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Sarah Bolger, Edward Hogg, Andrew Simpson, Jane Brennan, Caolan Byrne, Packy Lee, Rudy Doherty, Macie McCauley, Susan Ateh, Josh Bolt, Siobhan Kelly, Sean Sloan.

 

Dir Abner Pastoll, Pro Junyoung Jang and Guillaume Benski, Screenplay Ronan Blaney, Ph Richard Bell, Pro Des Gillian Devenney, Ed Abner Pastoll, Music Matthew Pusti, Costumes Elise Ancion.

 

February Films/Superbe Films/Frakas Productions/Casa Kafka Pictures-Belfius-Signature Entertainment.
95 mins. UK/Belgium. 2019. Rel: 25 October 2019. Cert. 18.