Sigourney Weaver and Kevin Kline star in a sobering account of one woman’s reckoning.
By and large, character portraits of older adults have decamped from movie theaters, heading for the friendlier confines of streaming services, where the presumed “target audience” will settle in for a comfortable evening at home, watching stars of yesteryear in movies that can be easily paused, whenever desired.
More’s the pity, and all the more reason why a film such as The Good House should be valued for what it is: a calm, low-key, charming, and utterly compelling story of a complicated woman. Hildy Good, a realtor who has long lived in the suburbs north of Boston, Massachusetts, certainly appears to be a well-heeled, yet down-to-earth professional person.
Sure, she has problems, primarily the burden of still providing financial support to her two adult daughters, as well as paying alimony to her ex-husband, Scott (David Rasche), who revealed he was gay after 20 years of marriage and now lives in town with his partner. None of them are desperate, per se, but they have become accustomed to Hildy’s support.
Eight months before the film begins, however, Hildy finally accepted her family’s insistence that she get help for her alcoholism. Though she is ostensibly recovered, and professes to one and all of her family that she no longer drinks, in reality, she still drinks wine daily, even excusing herself to the point that she occasionally drinks and drives.
Sigourney Weaver makes Hildy an entirely likable person, which in large part is why she is able to keep up her masquerade of sobriety for so long. She appears be dealing with her problems in an open and honest manner, but she is not, and continually justifies her actions to herself, which she speaks openly to the camera, constantly breaking the fourth wall.
Longtime partners Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarksky wrote the screenplay with Thomas Bezucha, adapting Ann Leary’s same-titled novel, first published in 2013, and they create an environment that is constantly filled with light, so that the audience can get easily carried away by Weaver’s likable personality as Hildy Good. Throughout, it’s easy to wonder: why is she drinking so often? Where are her demons? Could she or other people be exagerrating her social drinking? What’s the big deal?
And that, of course, is the problem for addicts. To the addict, it can be monstrously difficult to see how their addiction may be affecting other people, and incredibly difficult to see how it affects themselves, on an individual level.
The Good House sometimes strays into mawkish territory, sometimes stumbling as it attempt to deliver a measured message thast doesn’t come across as preachy or heavy handed. Sigourney Weaver glides thorough the proceedings with such practiced ease that it’s nearly impossible to contemplate that she is portraying an addict who desperately needs help.
She is surrounded by seasoned professionals, such as Kevin Kline, Morena Baccarin and Rob Delaney, who are equally at ease in gliding between lightly comic and darkly dramatic material. The cast is well dotted with other familiar faces, such as Kathryn Erbe, Beverly D’Angelo, and Paul Guilfoyle, who add to the film’s sturdy bearing as it sails through occasionally troubled waters.
The film opens in Dallas, Fort Worth and surrounding cities on September 30, via Roadside Attractions. For more information about the film, visit the official site.