The 400 Word Review: A Good Woman Is Hard to Find
By Sean Collier
May 9, 2020
Parenting is difficult. Under the best of circumstances, it’s an unrelenting and nuanced task.
If your spouse was murdered by a local drug kingpin and now a small-time crook has robbed that same kingpin, arbitrarily chosen your house to break into and forced you to become a reluctant confederate in his continued criminal dealings, parenting becomes markedly more difficult.
That description is a somewhat glib assessment of “A Good Woman is Hard to Find,” a thrilling new crime drama starring an electric Sarah Bolger (“The Lazarus Effect,” TV’s “Once Upon a Time.”) Then again, the title itself is a bit of a wry joke; in this film, the heroine will not just be proven “good.” She will be put through hell and unflinchingly persist.
Sarah (Bolger) is still coping with her husband’s murder — the police and everyone else have concluded that he was a neighborhood drug dealer who had some bad luck, but she doesn’t believe it — while trying to scrape together a living to care for her young children. Her youngest witnessed his father’s death and has stopped talking; her mother doesn’t trust that she’s keeping it together and wants the whole family to move in.
When Tito, a cocky-yet-dimwitted young crook (Andrew Simpson), bursts in one evening, Sarah isn’t presented with many options. Tito says he’s stashing some stolen drugs in her place and cutting her in on the profits; she can’t go to the police, who already aren’t particularly fond of her after she’s raised hell about her husband’s death. Desperately, Sarah tries to protect her children and appease Tito; when that route stops being viable, things get explosive.
Director Abner Pastoll does fine work keeping “A Good Woman is Hard to Find” from succumbing to grittiness. Many filmmakers, particularly in the somber 2010s, took any bleak story as an excuse to strip all flair and joy out of their work. Pastoll knows how to honor the real, harrowing journey Sarah must endure while simultaneously making his film entertaining. There’s something genuine here about family life on the margins of London; fortunately, there’s also a healthy dash of “Kill Bill.”
The engine of the project, however, is undoubtedly Bolger. She is alternatingly furious, restrained, wry and bitter; this is not a character with a limited palette, and Bolger knows how to make her a firework. Hopefully, this performance will be her launching pad.
My Rating: 8/10
“A Good Woman is Hard to Find” is streaming now via virtual cinema services.