A Good Woman Is Hard To Find (Movie Review)

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

PLOT: Sarah (Sarah Bolger) is a single mother of two in England reeling over her husband’s recent unsolved murder. When she accidentally becomes involved in a drug deal gone awry, she must do whatever it takes to protect her young children.

REVIEW: These days it seems that with most multiplexes shut down and the vast disposable glut of content produced a wide swath of multimedia platforms, A Good Movie Is Hard to Find. If you share such a sentiment and seek an honest antidote, you might do wise to check out Abner Pastoll’s sharp new thriller A GOOD WOMAN IS HARD TO FIND (WATCH IT HERE / OWN IT HERE). Is it a great movie? No, not unconditionally. But here’s a movie that was filmed in Belgium in just 16 days, reduced by 20 percent from its original 20-day shooting schedule a week prior to filming. Considering the challenge that must have presented, the end-result is pretty outstanding. Despite the lack of visual panache, the sum total is a highly engaging roundabout revenge tale in the guise of a compelling character study, made almost entirely watchable by the pitch-perfect primary performance by Irish actress Sarah Bolger. Indeed, this movie lives and dies the heartfelt empathy elicited by Bolger’s central turn as Sarah, whose inner-turmoil in the wake of her husband’s unsolved murder proves more of a demoralizing threat than the external menace she faces in the film. A good woman in a good movie!

Without credits, the film opens with a jarring image of a young woman smeared with rivulets of blood before hopping in the shower. The movie will circle back on this image toward the final act, but first, we meet Sarah (Bolger), single mother of Ben (Rudy Doherty) and Lucy (Macie McCauley), trying to get through one day at a time following the recent unsolved murder of her husband. The news claims her husband was a drug dealer killed in a deal gone sour. Sarah knows better and keeps her ear to the grindstone for any clues as to who may have murdered him. But the movie isn’t much about the mysterious identity of the killer or even Sarah’s search to find them. No, the plot takes a turn when Sarah is suddenly approached by a dope pusher named Tito (Andrew Simpson), who, upon stealing a cache of white powder from a rival gang, forces his way into Sarah’s flat to hide from his pursuers. Tito stashes the drugs in Sarah’s apartment and coerces her, at knifepoint, to comply with a scheme to sell the drugs out of her apartment. Strapped for cash, Sarah is no position to deny the 40% cut Tito offers her. Still, a horde of drugs in the house with two small children is a frightening prospect.

Without spoiling the key plot point of the film, the rival drug gang comes looking for Tito once he vanishes. This introduces a trio of underwhelming villains, led by Mackers (Packy Lee), a soft-spoken British bloke with a foppishly shaped goatee. One of the biggest problems with the movies the main conflict is that the arch-enemy is far too weak and nonthreatening to pose a frightful to viewers. Then again, this may be deliberate as it becomes clearer throughout the story that Sarah’s inner-tumult and psychological stress of grieving her dead husband while attempting to provide for her young children are foes far more formidable than her external threats. In fact, it’s the inner-strength she summons battling the former that emboldens her to physically challenge the latter. I like that distinction a great deal, as it gives the trampled modern-day revenge template a slightly new wrinkle. Here’s a woman whose bedraggled everyday existence is far more difficult than being physically accosted.

Once Mackers hears Ben utter the name Tito in a coincidental encounter, he sics his goons on Sarah with the intent to recoup their merchandise. Aside from one truly grisly and gut-wrenching scene of abject carnage, what really elicits our empathy for Sarah is the granularity of her home life. Writer Ronan Blaney (LOVE BITE, DON’T GO) does a splendid job of implanting daily activities that serve to shade Sarah’s character, but also function as key plot elements later in the film. Throughout the story, we see Sarah come up short at the cash register while shopping, stomach verbal abuse from a security manager, clean up old beer cans left by Tito in her flat, teach her kids how to eat Spaghetti, steal batteries from Ben’s toys for her unworkable vibrator, live under the disapproving scowl of her stuffy mother Alice (Jane Brennan), etc. The minute details of Sarah’s quotidian routine make it impossible to not relate to her and wonder with great interest in how she’ll navigate her out of this dire situation alive and well. And Bolger never hits a false note. By the time Sarah dolls herself up under a mound of makeup to cover the baggy bruises beneath her eyes and hits the nightclub for a much-deserved night out, a palpable sense of sinking sadness and uplifting celebration registers in equal measure.

Again, for a small-budgeted movie filmed in just 16 days, A GOOD WOMAN IS HARD TO FIND is quite an achievement. Anchored by a superb starring turn from Sarah Bolger, whose radiant talent is finally matched by a well-written film script (she’s had better luck on the small screen), Abner Pastoll’s new film is far better than most movies made in such a short time span. Under normal circumstances, the film would likely earn a solid 7/10 rating. But given the truncated filming schedule and impressive results, the extra credit is certainly warranted.

Source: Arrow the Head

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Jake Dee is one of JoBlo’s most valued script writers, having written extensive, deep dives as a writer on WTF Happened to this Movie and it’s spin-off, WTF Really Happened to This Movie.