Respond to these rapid questions in our The Good House quiz and we will tell you which The Good House character you are. Play it now.
In “The Good House,” Sigourney Weaver’s character maintains that sipping wine is not truly considered to be drinking. The dogs are with her in the kitchen as she pours merlot from her hidden supply into a coffee mug, so she isn’t actually drinking alone. She promises to be extra cautious this time, so it is okay for her to drive into town after having a few drinks.
These are just a few of the numerous falsehoods Hildy Good, played by Weaver, tells herself and us in her frequent, fourth wall-breaking confessions in order to deny the truth of her alcoholism. The romantic dramedy “The Good House,” which is based on the Ann Leary novel, touches on some incisive and incredibly relatable truths about drinking in general and about women’s drinking in particular: that it gives us swagger, that it helps us hang with the big boys, and that it lets us present the best version of ourselves to the world. Even when the movie stumbles, Weaver consistently finds opportunity to investigate the numerous intriguing weaknesses that her character’s addiction reveals. Even after the direction by Maya Forbes and Wally Wolodarsky becomes disjointed, her acting and her natural chemistry with frequent co-star Kevin Kline keep the audience interested.
As she takes us around the delightful (and fictitious) New England town of Wendover, Hildy’s narration is sardonic and clever, occasionally conspiratorial, and getting more and more contradictory. She has been the top realtor in this remote hamlet for years, but that’s all changing as nouveau riche families flood in from neighboring Boston. Hildy is proud that her family has been a part of Wendover for many years, going all the way back to the Salem witch trials, one of which is her ancestor. (Cue the obvious reference to “Season of the Witch,” one of the film’s numerous upbeat musical selections.) Since her husband left her for another man, Hildy is now divorced and finding it difficult to maintain relationships with her grown daughters. Being clean is not a part of her new identity, even though she recently left treatment following an intervention that was played for laughs in the script by the husband-and-wife directorial team and Thomas Bezucha.
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Humor and tension can be found in Hildy’s attempts to balance everything, as the gap between her true self and her persona continues to grow. She is shedding customers and avoiding calls from the Range Rover dealership that are requesting her lease payment. She quickly switches from drinking wine to vodka to help her survive. Weaver plays all of that with subtlety and excellent comic timing, and it’s all realistic and true.
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But Kline’s Frank Getchell, her high school sweetheart and first love, is the only constant in her life. He is the town’s cantankerous handyman and contractor, and nothing about his scruffy appearance and down-to-earth behavior would imply he is the wealthiest person in town. The kind of interaction that older audiences don’t get to witness in movies anymore is humorous and sweet, and their tentative fumblings toward rekindling their romance are both. Weaver and Kline have a warm, easy ease in each other’s company as well as a prickly, mocking affection after playing opposite each other in the 1990s films “Dave” and “The Ice Storm.” It’s similar to putting on a cherished, long-lost cardigan.
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It’s disappointing when “The Good House” shifts its focus and starts giving the town’s minor characters way too much attention because so much of the movie works so brilliantly for so long. As the therapist whose office is located above Hildy’s, Rob Delaney also stars; it is evident that he is going through some sort of personal and professional transition. Morena Baccarin is a recent immigrant and the stunning wife of an affluent couple who recently acquired a sizable waterfront mansion. However, not everything in her life is as wonderful as it seems. With the exception of chilly stares and snobbery, Kathryn Erbe is Hildy’s former protégé who stole all of her clients when she started her own business. And Beverly D’Angelo, Hildy’s childhood best friend and frequent drinking companion, flits in and out.
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Although none of these people are nearly as well-drawn or compelling as Hildy and Frank, the tale gradually focuses on them and other people. Particularly in some third-act melodrama that appears out of nowhere and sends the narrative into a pointless frenzy, they come off as plot devices and contrivances. You’ll be wondering what’s real and what she’s dreaming because it’s so bizarre. The movie obviously tries to evoke strong emotions in us, but it never succeeds. You’re more likely to become irritated by all of these distractions, if anything.
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However, there are worse ways to pass an afternoon than with Sigourney Weaver and Kevin Kline on a lobster boat in the sparkling weather. Hildy finally seems to be in her element when she is dirty on the water while sporting a knit Patriots hat and a barn jacket. And she is not holding a beverage in her hand.
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