Vertical’s “The Good Mother” is filmed and based in New York. Believe it or not, it wasn’t shot in Georgia! Sorry. That’s a personal thing… onto the review. It’s directed by Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, whose work has mostly been short films. Good for him to be moving up! It’s written by both him and Madison Harrison. They also worked together on the feature film named “As You Are.”
The movie stars “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Million Dollar Baby,” Hilary Swank. Those performances won her two Academy Awards. She was also great in films such as Steven Soderbergh’s “Logan Lucky.” What she’s doing in this film is unclear to me and will be to you, especially if you find her exceptional for her ability to win and deserve those awards.
The Good Mother is about Swank’s journalist, drunk, Marrisa, who has two adult sons yet just lost one, Michael, to murder. Well, when you’re a drug dealer, that can happen if you’re not careful.
Marrisa has a problematic relationship with his pregnant girlfriend, Paige (Olivia Cooke from Thoroughbreds), who’s now alone. They are somewhat forced to spend time talking and getting to know one another better. They also conclude that they should work together to find out who killed their Michael. Marrisa agrees to allow Paige to stay in her house. It’s a good move since she’s carrying her only grandchild. Marissa has no idea the young woman has hidden a suitcase that used to belong to Michael. It contains the drugs stamped (MM) for Mother’s Milk, which belonged to Michael.
Her other son, Toby, played by Jack Reynor, who starred in “Midsommar,” “Cherry” and will be in the upcoming “Flora and Son,” plays a local cop trying to help his mother in every way he can to help solve this case. He wants justice for his brother, even though he knows the problems Michael got himself in. Toby works with the women, searching for suspects.
They all home in on Michael’s friend Ducky, played by Hopper Penn, Robin Wright and Sean Penn’s child. You don’t see much of Ducky, not only because of the insufficient lighting but because his role is surprisingly small. I am compelled to point out that it’s relatively apparent that Ducky needs to be watched, Michael’s bestie or not.
As you get to know the characters in “The Good Mother,” you begin to wonder what makes a good mother and who, in this film, wants to be. The title suggests that the story centers around Marrisa and her two children, but did she want them? Did she care for them properly? She spends most of her time working and drinking to help make it through the day with a look on her face as if she wants to kill herself from misery. Marissa has had children, but is the narrative more about the woman trying to save the child she carries?
The movie struggles to make certain characters clearer and takes too long to define them all. You’re never sure of some relationships’ strength, and the mystery begins to float into the background. This isn’t a movie I’d suggest seeing, even though the actors work as hard as they can to make the crime feature work where there’s nothing but a discombobulated and confusing mess. There’s very little to like here, but I’m hoping the filmmakers take this as an opportunity to learn where their strengths and weaknesses are and improve.
Harkins Chandler Fashion Center 20
Harkins Norterra 14
Scottsdale 101 – 14
Prescott Valley Luxury 14
Superstitions Springs 25
Tempe Marketplace 16
Mary D Fisher – Sedona
**Additional theaters to be added
The Good Mother
Directed by: Miles Joris-Peyrafitte
Written by: Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, Madison Harrison
Starring: Hilary Swank, Olivia Cooke, Jack Reynor, Hopper Penn, Norm Lewis
Rated: R (Drug Material, Some Violent Content, Language)
Run Time: 1h 29m
Genres: Drama, Mystery, Thriller, Crime
Distributed by: Vertical
Produced by: Shaun Sanghani, Siena Oberman, Emma Tillinger Koskoff