THE GOOD HOUSE – Review
With the temps falling and the leaves slowly changing, lots of folks may be thinking of taking a trip to New England. Perhaps you could “hunker down” in a quaint old house by the water. Hey, if you’ve got the moola, maybe you could just buy the place, and make it your getaway, or permanent “digs”. Oh but most of us would have to do this vicariously, maybe at the movies. But who would you contact about such a fantasy home, say in a rustic lil’ village? And that is answered in this week’s star-powered release. Surely such a spot would be free of worries, “no hassles, no hustles”, right? Not really, as this film’s focus finds out. It seems you’re never safe from those “inner demons”, not even at THE GOOD HOUSE.
That person living in such a primo place is the town’s number one realtor Hildy Good (Sigourney Weaver). Well, former number one, since that title is held by her former assistant Wendy (Kathryn Erbe), who “poached ” the top clients when she went out on her own. This was just after Hildy “went away” for a time, a year ago after an intervention. Hildy was ambushed by her two daughters, Emily and Tess, along with her ex-husband Scott (David Rasche), and trusted aide Wendy. This prompted a stay in a rehab facility and a promise that she’ll attend “meetings” (she bailed after the first couple). Sure the real estate market is tough, but luckily she can call on her childhood crush, surly, grizzled, laid-back Frankie Getchell (Kevin Kline) to send out one of his work crews, or even himself, to make a house more “homey”. Also taking the edge off the “job” is the box of vino that Hildy keeps hidden in her house’s “work shed” (just a glass or two…or three with her two doggies). Of course, she’s slipping into her “old ways”, so when work frustrations are paired with her knowledge of an affair between her new best pal, bored rich housewife and drinking buddy (she’s unaware) Rebecca (Morena Baccarin) and upstairs from her office shrink Peter (Rob Delaney), Hidly runs to the arms of Frankie, after more of “the grape”. Is there any way this rekindled romance can sober up (in more ways than one) Hildy and free her from her family’s cycle of self-medication?
This story of remorse and regret is an engaging showcase for Weaver’s powerful performance. Her steely intelligence shines through, and the decision to have her “break the fourth wall” and talk directly to us through the camera lens lets us relish her superb comic timing. It’s also a better way to “get inside her head” as she engages in near-constant “bargaining” (“I’ll only have a glass or two when I’m home, at night, with the pups”) and her denials, tempered with a “Yankee stubbornness”. She can “handle it” and keeps all the “plates spinning”…until she lets them fall and crash, one after another. In their third screen outing, Weaver has a “chemistry shorthand” with the always charming Kline, whose Frank tries to project an aura of casual coolness, a free-spirited rambler. However, he can’t mask concern about his spiraling former fling. Baccarin excels as the small-town bombshell “trophy wife” whose dazzling smile can’t hide her loneliness. Delaney (so good in “Catastrophe”) is the passive-aggressive intellectual desperate to conceal his wrecked marriage. Plus there are a couple of brief turns by two acting vets. Paul Guilfoyle (“CSI”) is Hildy’s irritating reminder of her family’s deception as he tells her that they miss her at the “meetings”. And Beverly D’Angelo oozes star power as the local beauty queen who’s always around for the part, and to be the lil’ devil on Hildy’s shoulder.
A directing “tag team tackled this film with Maya Forbes and Wally Wolodarsky sharing the reigns and also joining Thomas Bezucha in adapting the novel by Ann Leary. They expertly set up the “picture perfect” town of Wendover, MA (though shot in gorgeous Nova Scotia), then slowly peels back its layers to reveal the sadness and scandals. It’s not PEYTON PLACE, but it’s not what Hildy is trying to sell to the rich “city folk”. They wisely limit her “talks to us” so as to not overdue the whimsy and get precious or cloying. It’s a slow, steady, simmering pot of drama with dashes of comedy and romance before it almost boils over into suspense and tragedy in the final act. Sure, we’ve seen those battling the booze many times before, but Weaver puts a fresh spin on Hildy’s struggles, making us root for her even as the vino flips a switch and she’s in full belligerent b*#l-buster mode. She’s the reason to “close the deal” on THE GOOD HOUSE.
3 Out of 4
THE GOOD HOUSE is now playing in theatres everywhere