Sweet-natured Sarah is struggling with her young family in the wake of her husbands’ murder. Not only is she dealing with a traumatised son, who witnessed the vicious stabbing, but financial strains and a judgemental mother too. When she crosses paths with a rabidly passive-aggressive drug dealer, her plight takes an even more turbulent swerve towards total instability. However, what seems like a hopeless situation will also offer up a blood-soaked opportunity for closure.
A Good Woman is Hard to Find is a bleak, hard-edged thriller with a gritty agenda and the courage of conviction to pursue its desolate narrative to the bitter and bloody end. Part home invasion, part violent horror movie and part revenge flick, Pastoll’s movie is so deftly structured that it emanates a cohesive resonance, rather than a sloppy genre mishmash.
There is a tangible whiff of the work of Shane Meadows and Andrea Arnold(Fish Tank), that pervades both Ronan Blaney’s intellectually seasoned script and the films overall texture. Indeed, one scene, in particular, is such a clear call back to the famous confrontation moment in Dead Man’s Shoes, it can be considered nothing other than a pure homage.
Whatever the film’s roots or influences, it pilots its grainy course with a more than sufficient sense of self-identity and solid purpose. There are even granules of wit and irony sparkling amongst the granite. The continued influence of a sex toy on the plot is inventive and sly. The way it features in two areas, one social commentary, one dynamically, typifies the films flexibility and thematic eloquence.
The brutal violence that routinely punctures the kitchen-sink realism could easily have derailed its earthly dramatic trajectory. Yet, although it is exceptionally gruesome at times, the credible motivations that kindle the carnage keep the picture grounded in plausibility.
There are some seriously accomplished performances in A Good Woman is Hard to Find that further enhance its artistic integrity. Edward Hogg’s grammar police gangster Leo is given meaty screen time, and he responds with a disturbing blend of relish and icy restraint. Andrew Simpson shines as the disenfranchised and desperate Tito who trespasses into Sarah’s home and head. He is a genuinely nasty individual who encapsulates the disastrous misjudgement between actions and consequences born of overentitlement.
But make no mistake, this is lead actress Sarah Bolger’s gig. Her emotive range and silky delivery is unadulterated class, in a portrayal worthy of top tier nominations. It is a crying shame that she is destined to join Toni Collette(Hereditary) and Florence Pugh(Midsommer) on the same scandalous chopping block that deprived Ellen Burstyn of her Oscar for A Requiem for a Dream. Work of immense power overlooked because of shamefully elitist genre prejudice.
A Good Woman is Hard to Find is such an easy film to get wrapped up in, even if it is a challenging experience to stomach. In terms of a seedy and distressing thriller, it grips like an alligator. As an impassioned think piece about the boundaries of parental conservation, it cauterises the wound with sweet catharsis.
Crime, Thriller | UK, 2019 | 18 | 25th October 2019 (UK) | Signature Entertainment | Dir. Abner Pastoll | Sarah Bolger, Edward Hogg, Andrew Simpson, Jane Brennan
This was originally posted as part of our Arrow Video 2019 FrightFest Coverage