It’s always nice to see a leading role for a mature female actor, and “The Good House” (based on the 2013 novel by Ann Leary) provides a great one for Sigourney Weaver. Her honest performance as a down-on-her-luck realtor is one of her best in years not only due to the complexity of her character, but because it showcases her talent.
Things just aren’t going well for Hildy Good (Weaver). Her sales prospects are defecting to other agents, and the home market in her affluent New England town isn’t what it used to be. Starting to realize her best years may very well be behind her, Hildy develops a drinking problem to help herself cope. She’s never openly dealt with her insecurities and painful trauma from the past, regularly sabotaging her success and self-medicating with cases of wine. When she rekindles her romance with grizzled local handyman Frank (Kevin Kline), everything in her life starts to unravel.
Directors Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky (the duo also adapted the novel) give a clever screen interpretation of the source material. Hildy directly addresses the audience to introduce the cast of characters, an effective breaking of the fourth wall that intimately includes audiences in her life. It’s like we are getting the inside gossip from the horse’s mouth, allowing a connection to be made. Hildy is a woman who is smart but battle-worn, putting on airs with a sharp-tongued confidence that masks the reality of her inner turmoil. When new neighbor Rebecca (Morena Baccarin) arrives in town, Hildy takes her under her wing, leaving her true intentions open to interpretation.
It’s a solid story that broaches some serious subjects, but with a lightly dramatic touch. Hildy is a person suffering alone and living in pain, a woman who needs to ask for help and is struggling to find happiness again in life. Eventually she gives up the old version of herself and finally emerges with a new outlook, discovering a better version of the person she can be. It sounds corny, but the film is anything but. The sincerity should be credited to Weaver and Kline, two underappreciated actors who are simply terrific together. Kline is especially charming and at 74 years old, he’s never lost his charisma.
“The Good House” is a rewarding adult drama, and the lead performances make it memorable.
This film was screened for review at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival.
By: Louisa Moore