Review by Dan Skip Allen
Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver have been established actors for decades now. Lately, they have been taking it easy or resting on their laurels, if you will. They haven't been in as many noticeable film and television projects as they had before. The days of the Alien franchise and Dave have gone by the wayside. That all changes with the new dramedy The Good House.
Hildy Good (Sigourney Weaver) is an aging real estate agent in Wendover, Massachusetts. It was primarily known as a fishing and claiming village before the upper middle class turned it into a well-to-do area on Boston's North Shore. The real estate industry is sparse, but the town is a small, tight-knit community where everybody knows everybody. Weaver's character falls back on a relationship she once had when she was younger with a local businessman Frank Getchell (Kevin Kline). There is more to this sleepy little town than meets the eye.
This film uses one particular filmmaking technique that has been used in comic books but not as much in movies, breaking the fourth wall. Weaver's character pretty much does this from the beginning of the film to the end. It's used like a crutch to explain significant aspects of the film, such as an alcoholism subplot, but she also uses it to talk about other characters.
This film is based on a book of the same name by Ann Leary. The screenplay by Thomas Bezucha, Maya Forbes, and Wallace Wolodarsky beats the alcoholism story to death. Weaver's character has had issues with this disease her entire life, but the filmmakers and writers make it out to be the end-all-be-all of her life. A few blackout scenes and an intervention make it seem worse than it actually is. The things she has to deal with in her life make it seem like a crutch for her, but it's more like a way for her to relax and take the edge off.
The actors try to talk with a Boston accent. At first, it comes across as jarring and comedic but eventually, I felt comfortable with it. The area the movie is filmed in is beautiful, especially during the fall months. The story spans quite a bit of time. Subplots involving a local artist (Morena Baccarin) and a psychiatrist (Rob Delaney) were interesting. A second about a conniving ex-real estate agent was the glue that held the movie together. It needed them.
The Good House is your typical dramedy. It has a few subplots that drive the narrative forward but struggles with the central theme for its characters. The alcoholism plot thread and breaking the fourth wall didn't seem to work for me. They seemed forced into the film, and I'm sure this wasn't supposed to be the case. Having not read the book, I don't know if these were meant to be depicted differently or not. They just didn't work very well. This movie wanted to give a message about alcoholism; instead, it just lost its way trying to tell its story.
The Good House is now playing in theaters.