A Good Woman is Hard to Find Review

A Good Woman is Hard to Find

I’m all for gritty urban revenge thrillers, me.

Films like Dead Man’s Shoes and Harry Brown are right up my street, even if the particularly grim tone of the latter haunted me longer than it should have.

New release A Good Woman is Hard to Find had a very similar effect.

Abner Pastoll’s film tells the story of Sarah, a young mother of two, who is dealing with the aftermath of her husband’s murder on their housing estate in Northern Ireland. Her young son witnessed the murder and has been mute since.

Sarah finds that the police, believing her husband was a drug dealer, appear to be doing very little to apprehend those responsible.

Through a series of chance encounters, she finds herself drawn into the local criminal underworld and presented with an opportunity to not only find out why her husband was murdered but to potentially bring the killers to justice.

The film starts well, peppered with innocuous moments which pay off later on, and some no-punches-pulled social commentary.

A lot of this works because of Sarah Bolger’s powerhouse performance as Sarah, all shredded nerves, grief-stricken and barely holding it together, but hinting at the strong capability underneath.

There are also some standout, taut scenes, such as some wince-inducing moments where Sarah is cleaning up following a violent encounter. You’ll know what I mean when you see it.

It all gets under your skin which is a credit to the filmmakers.

There is a point in the film however, when the plot seems to take over from the character exploration, and Bolger’s foundation work can only do so much to keep it all from going off the rails earlier than it eventually does.

The blame does not solely lie with Edward Hogg’s unhinged local kingpin, but it does feel like he has wandered in from a different movie entirely. This, coupled with the over-convenient plot twists, serve to undermine the earlier parts of the movie.

You also walk out of the film wondering what the overarching message was. There doesn’t have to be one of course, but it helps. Sarah’s character definitely goes through a journey, but the film seems to be on the fence about everything that has transpired to get there.

Coming across as Death Wish meets Ken Loach, the film has plenty going for it: there are some great moments, a knockout performance by Bolger and a nicely sustained tone, but unfortunately it doesn’t all quite hang together to the end.

Conor Brennan

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Dates ‘n stuff

October 2019