Sigourney Weaver and Kevin Kline star in a film that hides a story about alcoholism inside a soft focus romance.
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By Teo Bugbee
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As a real estate agent and as the protagonist of the drama “The Good House,” Hildy Good (Sigourney Weaver) is a confident hostess. The film begins with Hildy describing her life in a small seaside town in Massachusetts, first in voice-over and then in a direct address to the camera.
In the spirit of blasé town gossip, Hildy freely offers her back story. Her husband left her to begin seeing men, and her protégé began stealing her clients. However, the secret that threatens Hildy’s happiness is one that she keeps from herself. She’s an alcoholic, and despite previous stints in rehab, she has not been able to give up drinking.
The film follows Hildy as she tries to rebuild her life and her business through working with her neighbors as clients. She even begins dating her first love, Frank (Kevin Kline). But the omnipresence of alcohol threatens Hildy’s stability. She can’t resist the bottle, and can’t remember what she’s done when she has one in her hands.
The directors Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky use the film’s style as a sleight of hand. At first glance, the movie appears to be a soft focus romance. Sigourney Weaver and Kevin Kline are beloved performers, still sharp after decades of stardom. The views over the New England harbor charm, and the score cheerily plink-plunks along with assists from the classic rock needle drops. The stylistic placidity draws attention to the disturbance of Hildy’s alcoholism, the way her drinking interrupts even the film’s genre. But the trouble with this cinematic Trojan horse is that the superficial blandness dominates the frame. It’s hard to feel the story’s stakes when the images are always indicating no danger ahead.
The Good House
Rated R for language, brief nudity and sexual content. Running time: 1 hour 54 minutes. In theaters.
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