The Good Girl Reviews
The movie is really absorbing, keeping the audience interested yet sad. We share in the ups and downs of the characters and truly get attached to them. ALL of them! Great writing and directing brings all this together and somehow changes us, as only a good movie can!
All in all I have rather mixed feelings about The Good Girl. It was a simple film with a somewhat Coen-esq in its melancholy and general dramatic mood for which a potential extensive story was forsaken. It was a character study mostly with familiar concepts dealt with in a rather realistic fashion and themes regarding how for every action there is a reaction and just how far that can end up going. It is interesting in terms of themes, but the narrative itself is rather dull. The Good Girl is largely a character study and an analysis of the realistic sadness that happens in everyday situations and how it plays out in many complex concepts.
The Good Girl is a film which is touching in a certain regard. Many viewers who have seen it, particularly adolescents who cannot please those who are considered their superiors, will understand the pain that the protagonist Justine Last feels. All her life she just wanted to be a good girl as the title would suggest and please the people around her, and the film characterises that in a fairly subtle way without burdening her with melodrama. The instant she decides to take charge in the simplest fashion and do something for herself, it begins to lead to many complicated situations which damage the lives of those around her. All she wanted was to please people, but one little mistake managed to damage everything and turn her into the bad girl. The examination of the domino effect in the film may not be perfectly clear and there may be a surplus of complicated dynamics that occur as a result of it all which can be a little bit much and an imperfect match for the subtle dramatic nature of the feature, but at heart The Good Girl is a good film which is what really matters. It has the right level of spirit and the right balance between empathy and general emotional distance. The Good Girl is both empathetic and distant which makes it an odd film, but it is certainly one of worthy viewing which is constructed out of a loose series of plot dynamics anchored by the general sense of direction which Miguel Arteta brings to the film. It is light on atmosphere in the same way that it is genuinely light on drama with the dynamics piling up to gradually make the film somewhat heavy in a certain regard.
The Good Girl is a complicated film which is not constructed perfectly and not always entertaining, but though its slow pace and large amount of story dynamics, it remains touching in its own right, predominantly because of the strong performance that Jennifer Aniston ends up delivering.
Jennifer Aniston is an actress well known for her many comedy roles, and as she proved in certain episodes of Friends she has a knack for drama as well. In The Good Girl, she has to buckle down and take all the drama as it comes to her. She proves without a doubt that she is more than capable of handling it all. Her restrained performance is a touching one because despite her actions being self-absorbed much of the time, Jennifer Aniston is easily able to play at the sympathetic angle which allows viewers to take Justine Last's behaviour on in a thoughtful manner. Her performance is an excellent step forward because the subject matter of the film is really complex and she easily proves herself to be up to the challenge with enough strength that viewers would not even question her casting. It is easy to look beyond the comedy legacy of Jennifer Aniston in The Good Girl because her performance feels extremely natural without being anything short of charismatic. It is an entertaining performance which demands the most basic acting talents from Jennifer Aniston which she fearlessly delivers and is able to remain entertaining the entire time on screen even when the film slows down a bit around her.
With Jake Gyllenhaal currently stirring up Oscar buzz for his leading performance as a sociopath in 2014's Nightcrawler, it is great to look back and see one of his significantly younger performances where he delivered a role maintaining the same kind of mental health problems but in a different context. His youthful charisma and ability to portray mental instability is incredible for the actor and reaffirms my faith in his talents if they weren't already at such a high standard. His incredible dedication to such a low profile role is easily notable due to the way he captures the dark and damaged nature of the character while sharing some complex and effective scenes with Jennifer Aniston. Jake Gyllenhaal is a key asset to the success of The Good Girl, and his performance is unforgettable.
John C. Reilly delivers a strong supporting effort as well. Although the role he takes on tends to be a bit of an archetype in many films, it is a nice change of pace to see him in such a part because his natural charm makes him more likable in the role. He puts a spin on conventions in the role by doing what he does best in delivering his organic spirit to the role, and it makes him a very sympathetic character. John C. Reilly is the perfect fit for the archetypal role he takes on in The Good Girl, and the chemistry he shares with Jennifer Aniston really brings something to the film.
So The Good Girl is a film which is light in its drama and heavy on quantity of plot dynamics without always being perfectly paced or entertaining, but the complex nature of the themes explored in the film ensure that it remains a somewhat touching feature and the incredible performances of Jennifer Aniston and Jake Gyllenhaal make it intriguing to watch.