Wednesday, May 06, 2020

A Good Woman is Hard to Find

She is a vulnerable young woman with a cache of drugs hidden in her Northern Ireland council estate flat. She is not blind, like Audrey Hepburn in Wait Until Dark. She is a young widow with two young children and no money to speak. That means her prospects for survival (short-term and long-term) are probably much worse in this class-conscious thriller. Living day-to-day was already a struggle for Sarah before she found herself in the middle of a drug score gone-wrong in Abner Pastoll’s A Good Woman is Hard to Find, which releases on VOD this Friday.

Sarah and her husband Stephen were never rich, but they got by before he was murdered. Their little boy Ben witnessed the attack, but the trauma struck him mute. Sarah’s stern mother offers cold comfort, so it is largely her against the world. The cops are not even investigating Stephen’s death because of his criminal record, so when the lowlife Tito literally bursts into her flat and life, she feels she has nowhere to turn.

Tito managed to rob a shipment of illicit white powder from Leo Miller’s drug syndicate. In addition to being a pedantic grammarian, Miller is vicious when crossed. That is why the sleazy Tito wants to use her flat as his stash house. His presence is definitely a threat to her children’s safety, but Miller and his associates are even more dangerous.

Arguably, Good Woman is street-smart and naturalistic to a fault, with the social realism occasionally threatening to overwhelm the thriller elements. Still, when Pastoll (who previously helmed Road Games) lets things get violent, the blood splatters and pools quite spectacularly.

Regardless, Sarah Bolger is impressively fierce as her namesake. She makes the pendulum swing from beaten-down, freaked-out victim to urban angel of vengeance look natural and believable. Even her ultimate empowerment is hard-earned and credible. Edward Hogg is also flamboyantly menacing as the sociopathic Miller. However, Andrew Simpson makes a rather nondescript thug as Tito.

Good Woman is sometimes a tough watch, but it is a quality film. Ronan Blaney’s screenplay is a little pat, but there is nothing simple about Bolger’s portrayal of the deeply human central character. Recommended for fans of gritty crime thrillers, A Good Woman is Hard to Find hits VOD platforms this Friday (5/8), including iTunes.