A Good Woman Is Hard To Find: BRWC FrightFest Review. Some films have the innate ability to take up residence under your skin and stay there. Experiencing films like this can be utterly invigorating, and often nightmare-inducing. Abner Pastoll’s newest feature film A Good Woman is Hard to Find is flawed, but there can be no doubting its ownership of the space beneath our skin.
A Good Woman is Hard to Find is about widowed mother of two Sarah (Sarah Bolger) who still seeks her husband’s murderer long after the police have given up. She finds herself on the wrong side of the law when a drug dealer forcibly enters her home. His name is Tito (Andrew Simpson), and he stashes stolen drugs in her home as he has no better place to hide them. From there, Sarah finds herself descending further and further into vicious darkness to defend her children from Tito and the men who come looking for what he stole.
This story fails to break any new ground, but that doesn’t mean it is any less worthwhile a story to tell. From the first scene to the last Pastoll places us in a cruel and judgemental world full of wicked individuals. Every character, good or bad, has a way of making you squirm. Tito is vile and aggressively violent, making him unsettling for apparent reasons, but Sarah’s son Ben (Rudy Doherty) manages to achieve some of the same reactions as Tito. He never speaks, no matter what. His continuous silence allows the constant cruelty to reverberate in anticipation for him to speak, but instead, another man bangs on the door to further abuse Sarah’s sanity. It feels like anything can happen at any time, and that is an asset; until it isn’t.
Pacing is a jarring issue in A Good Wife is Hard to Find. There is plenty of empty exposition, particularly in scenes involving Sarah’s mother Alice (Jane Brennan). There isn’t much about their relationship that adds to the core story, as touching as some of it is it can’t help but feel needless. Alice is more of a plot device than a fully realised character, someone had to watch the kids after all; unfortunately, it’s all too transparent. It makes the film drag, and that should have been something the filmmakers avoided.
However, when the moments finally arrive for the next shocking act to occur the film can’t help but jump right back to the tone it wants. This is thanks entirely to the powerhouse performance of Sarah Bolger. Without her, this movie is nothing, and I am not hyperbolic in saying that. She inspires all the empathy, squirminess, and awe that this film manages to muster. It is her reactions to the characters that make them impact you as much as they do. Whether Sarah is trying to placate Tito or trying to get Ben to speak, everything comes from her. Above all else, she makes for a convincing loving mother. She makes all her struggles believably worthwhile because she so clearly loved her husband, and still loves her children, whom she would do anything for, and I mean anything.
Pastoll does his job admirably from the directors’ chair. He immerses us in this world in impactful ways during the best parts of the film, and that enhances the central performance to no end. The biggest behind the camera achievement, however, has to be the score. Matthew Pusti has composed a score that vividly brings to life the tightrope that Sarah is continually walking on throughout as she struggles to protect her children.
A Good Woman is Hard to Find is slow and at times empty, but Sarah Bolger elevates the experience to heights every other aspect could never have achieved without her.
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