The Good House Review: Weaver & Kline Are A Winning Duo Opposite Solid Ensemble

Based purely on its poster, Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky's The Good House looks like a Nicholas Sparks-eque romance between Sigourney Weaver and Kevin Kline's Massachusetts-based characters. However, as readers of Ann Leary's book know, there is far more to this story, and its film adaptation strives to capture that with warmth and respect. It mostly succeeds, though it can't quite pull off some late-stage twists. Thanks to Weaver's fearless performance, though, The Good House rises above its flaws to become an entertaining and earnest character study.

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Residing in the fictional seaside town of Wendover, Hildy Good (Weaver) projects an air of perfection from her very first scene. A realtor eager to score the best listings, Hildy gives the impression she has everything under control, but there are issues lingering beneath the surface. For one thing, her daughters (Rebecca Henderson and Molly Brown) believe she has a drinking problem, even though Hildy only insists on having a glass or two (or more) at night. For another, her business isn't quite as successful as it once was. As Hildy becomes involved with one of Wendover's newest residents (Morena Baccarin) and brushes up against her old fling Frank (Kline), her life becomes increasingly more complicated.

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Sigourney Weaver in The Good House
Sigourney Weaver in The Good House

Forbes and Wolodarsky co-wrote The Good House's screenplay alongside Thomas Bezucha. In confronting Hildy's drinking issues, the movie must walk a very fine line. It never gets bogged down with seriousness, but it also doesn't shy away from its protagonist's dangerous behaviors. The directors smartly bring the audience directly into Hildy's life by having Weaver break the fourth wall. This is, at first, a bit jarring, but eventually it proves to be effective. By making Hildy address the audience herself, The Good House allows her to become a proper unreliable narrator. She continues to assure viewers she has a hand on her drinking, but her actions promise there is a reckoning ahead. Weaver plays Hildy's blithe attitude well, to the point where it's actually hard not to believe her for a stretch. She leans into Hildy's charisma and handles her gradual descent with the skill many have come to expect from the Alien actor.

Filmed on location in Nova Scotia rather than Massachusetts, The Good House perfectly transports viewers to a sleepy New England town. Forbes and Wolodarsky give the film a great sense of place, weaving in gorgeous shots of "Wendover" to firmly establish the community Hildy lives in. The detail to location gives The Good House an extra layer of realism and beauty. In populating the town, the directors have assembled an excellent cast, from Kline and Baccarin to Rob Delaney and Georgia Lyman. This is truly a place where everyone knows each other, and the richness of the community can be felt throughout. If some elements feel a bit awkward, like Hildy's connection to the Salem witch trials, it's smoothed over by the strength of the cast. Kline shines the most as handyman Frank Getchell; his chemistry with Weaver makes up the heart of The Good House, and he balances Frank's playful nature with his more serious side quite well. Baccarin also stands out as Rebecca, Wendover's newcomer, though it feels like there is far more to her than what the script reveals.

Morena Baccarin and Sigourney Weaver in The Good House
Morena Baccarin and Sigourney Weaver in The Good House

If The Good House falters anywhere, it is near the end, when the plot takes a dark turn. Forbes and Wolodarsky don't quite handle the tonal shift well; it's a bit too jarring and melodramatic to mesh with the rest of the story. It's a stretch where Hildy begins to truly question herself and danger seems to lurk just around the corner, and while Weaver commits to Hildy's complete breakdown, The Good House just can't accommodate this kind of change. The same can be said for occasional flashbacks to Hildy's past which, while filling in some key aspects of her character, push the drama closer to silly rather than impactful due to their staging.

For all its more serious moments, The Good House actually feels a lot like comfort food. It could be due to the vivid community the filmmakers have built, or because of Weaver's multifaceted performance. It also could be because, at its core, The Good House is about inner growth and the value in appreciating loved ones. Hildy goes on quite a journey, and it isn't always the happiest. However, there is genuine warmth to be found here, and it ends on a hopeful note that will surely resonate with viewers.

The Good House releases in theaters Friday, September 30. The film is 103 minutes long and is rated R for brief sexuality and language.

2022-09-30T14:32:48.000Z

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