A GOOD WOMAN IS HARD TO FIND / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: ABNER PASTOLL / SCREENPLAY: RONAN BLANEY / STARRING: SARAH BOLGER, EDWARD HOGG, ANDREW SIMPSON / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 25TH
Having made a solid first impression with his debut feature Road Games, director Abner Pastoll makes an even bigger impact with A Good Woman is Hard to Find, a haunting, unnerving drama that sees a recently widowed mother of two trying to survive a world of crime and depression after an unfortunate event with a drug dealer brings all hell down on her.
This is a bold, unflinching experience from beginning to end, providing us with a different experience from what we got in Pastoll’s previous film. The pacing feels slower yet builds the tension, and shifting from rural France to urban Ireland makes the world feel more tangible and real. Pastoll and writer Ronan Blaney portray a world that looks and feels brutal to survive in, thanks to uncaring police officers, slimy paedophilic shop workers, and violent drug dealers.
This is dark and gritty in every possible sense and takes full advantage of its naturalistic surroundings to tell a grounded and mature story about the stark, harsh realities of life within a mundane urban setting. Focusing on an emotionally tortured woman who goes through an emotional transformation as the film progresses. At the beginning, her mother tells her that ‘in order to get anywhere in this world you have to be a bit of a bitch’, and throughout the film, we see someone going from this timid and fragile person to being a strong, confident, and who's finally in control of her own life by the end. It's a tough journey to endure since we see her being forced into taking morally-questionable actions for survival, not just for her, but for her own children as well.
What makes this turbulent metamorphosis believable and convincing is the central performance by the ever phenomenal Sarah Bolger who dominates every frame she's in. Bolger's performance is brave, raw and nuanced, masterfully conveying her emotions through the most subtle of ways, either through her quiet body language or her ever-expressive eyes. This entire film rests entirely on her performance, but Bolger emerges triumphant, and hopefully, we'll see great things from this rising star soon. Visually, this film is beautifully executed with the colour palette going from muted and sombre to becoming more vibrant and intense by the end, reflecting the transformation of our central protagonist, all helped enormously by Richard C. Bell's expert cinematography and Matthew Pusti's eerie score.
A Good Woman is Hard to Find is a damn solid piece of drama that is brutal yet effective. Everything about it is handled expertly well, while Sarah Bolger's central performance is so incredible it's reason enough to see this movie altogether. It may not be completely original, but it's a stylistic, thematically-driven film that is highly recommended for any genre fan.
Expected Rating: 6 out of 10