The Good House, 2022.
Directed by Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky.
Starring Sigourney Weaver, Kevin Kline, Morena Baccarin, Rob Delaney, Beverly D’Angelo, David Rasche, Rebecca Henderson, Molly Brown, Kathryn Erbe, Kelly AuCoin, Georgia Lyman, Oliver Boyle, Holly Chou, Damien Di Paola, Anthony Estrella, Chris Everett, Paul Guilfoyle, Laurie Hanley, Sebastien Labelle, Jimmy LeBlanc, Silas Pereira-Olson, Carl Sprague, Isabelle D. Trudel, and Alison Weller.
Life for New England realtor Hildy Good begins to unravel when she hooks up with an old flame of hers from New York. Based on Ann Leary’s ‘The Good House.’
Most reviews begin with a brief rundown of the general plot and details about key characters, which I would love to do for The Good House if it had something resembling a story. It does have a protagonist in Sigourney Weaver’s Hildy Good, a functioning alcoholic real estate broker that splits the running time breaking the fourth wall about having her drinking under control and mingling with the townsfolk of Wendover (a small Massachusetts fishing village with connections to the Salem witch trials), some of which are clients.
Hildy also loans money to her New York-based aspiring artist daughter Emily (Molly Brown), tries to make time for her grandchild from older daughter Tess (Rebecca Henderson), working through a distant relationship brought on by decades of rocky parenting, and openly resents her ex-husband Scott (David Rasche) for coming out as gay and leaving her saddled with alimony payments.
There are a host of supporting characters orbiting her life, either looking to sell a house or buy a house, comprised of couples that end up cheating on one another, with Hildy holding onto that knowledge for potential future blackmail, especially considering the job has been dry lately, and her protégé Wendy Heatherton (Kathryn Erbe) cut ties and started up her agency.
There’s not much to like about Hildy, which directors Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky (co-writing thescreenplay alongside Thomas Bezucha, based on the novel by Ann Leary) appear to be playing into with the character’s constant fourth wall-breaking attempting to justify her drinking, commenting on her misery, and somewhat self-aware that she screws over some of her clients, but Sigourney Weaver’s performance is low-energy and flat. If the point is to cheer on her misdeeds and questionable behavior, she fails at getting viewers on her side.
What’s left is an unlikable character at every turn, denying her problems and routinely attacking her ex-husband’s sexuality (I fully understand there’s a sense of betrayal when someone you are married to comes out as gay and wants a divorce, but Hildy goes down that road so often one can’t help but wonder if she’s flat-out bigoted). The Good House doesn’t stop there with its tastelessness, introducing an autistic child for no other reason than to serve as a plot device down the road.
Along the way, Hildy rekindles a friendship with garbageman/home maintenance worker Frank (Kevin Kline), which genuinely provides some happiness and squashes the urge to drink. She eventually cracks anyway, with temptation scenes as cliché as they come (such as staring at bottles away from the family in another room on Thanksgiving).
Their chemistry together is the only remotely credible aspect here (the entire ensemble around Sigourney Weaver is decent, even if the material is atrocious). Unfortunately, this opportunity to explore a thoughtful romance between older characters on screen is quickly reduced to lowbrow comedy with a cringe sex scene played for laughs rather than something emotional.
A misguided central performance (Sigourney Weaver gives a phony portrayal of a drunk inside a movie that’s not interested in exploring a darker side of addiction), uninvolving character dynamics, and a missed opportunity romance are nothing compared to where The Good House eventually ends up. It turns out that all of these character details and interactions, while naturally leading to a wake-up call for Hildy regarding her alcoholism, also transition (with roughly 15 minutes to go, to give you an idea of how nonsensical and rushed this all is) into a melodramatic thriller that buys into Gildy’s shared bloodline with Salem witches.
Wondering how anyone thought the insanity of the third act mystery was a good idea is certainly better than being bored for the other 80 minutes. The editing also noticeably hacks away at entire conversations but considering this movie was about 15 minutes longer when it premiered that Toronto last year, I can only presume this was done to remove more listless dialogue.
Just take a bulldozer to The Good House; awful in every way.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com