GOOD GIRL, THE
Justine (Jennifer Aniston) is trying to get pregnant to her XL size house painter husband, Phil (John C. Reilly), whose constant companion and painting mate is Bubba (Tim Blake Nelson). She works at the local supermarket, where she begins an affair with an intense, withdrawn, romantic, younger man, Holden (Jake Gyllenhaal) who has taken the name of his current literary hero from the book he reads - Catcher in the Rye. The affair gets as intense as Holden, and triggers major changes in all their lives.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Miguel Arteta has done a splendid job observing the wild ivy of an illicit love affair overgrow the lives of those it touches. He’s meticulous about the detail of it all, and has used an almost obsessive adherence to reality to achieve his cinematic ends. The cast has clearly gone along with his wishes, and each of them delivers genuine characters, not fake samples. Aniston’s intoxicated lover is a mass of unwired emotions when things turn bad, as they inevitably must. John C. Reilly is painfully effective as the cuckolded husband whose sperm count counts for more than he reckoned on, and young Jake Gyllenhaal (reminiscent of
Toby Maguire) brings a fizzing intensity to the screen when called for. But all the cast shine, including writer Mike Nelson, who plays a security guard at the supermarket with a bible class hobby and prying eyes. The Good Girl poses some moral questions but Arteta does it with compassion not exploitatively, and the film has a lingering mood of melancholy and honesty that’s hard to shake. Well worth the time.
Review by Louise Keller:
“He’s just a boy whose intentions are good…” goes the song. And so sums up The Good Girl, a piercing and poignant story about love, perceptions and how one thing just leads to another. We meet Justine at a time that her view of the world has jaded – it has changed from being the giant candy store that it was, to becoming a prison. She is a lost soul, tired of coming home each night from her boring day at Retail Rodeo, to a stoned husband and his workmate. In Holden (the name he calls himself, from Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye; Tom is his ‘slave’ name), Justine finds a disturbed human being who is as dissatisfied as she is, but for different reasons. ‘We get each other’ is how Holden describes their relationship. The drama unfolds as inevitably as the unravelling of a ball of wool, the story’s power emanating from the characters’ dynamics of the characters. It’s a well written script and the characters are beautifully brought to life by a wonderful cast. A dream role for Jennifer Aniston, allowing her to put her tv sitcom image on the shelf and put her dramatic talents to good use. Jake Gyllenhall is riveting as the troubled Holden, bringing with him the kind of tragic intensity Robert Downey Jnr delivers so well. I especially enjoyed John C. Reilly’s Phil, who is also trying to escape from reality, and Tim Blake Nelson’s leering Bubba. The interesting thing is that each of the four central characters is disillusioned with life and Holden becomes the catalyst for change for each of them. It’s a great ensemble cast and the characters we get to know at Retail Rodeo (from the hypocritical bible-class advocate to the sales assistant with the uncontrollable mouth) add a wonderfully diverse texture. Moving, insightful and thoroughly entertaining, The Good Girl takes us to the crossroads of the human heart. The question is which way to turn.
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GOOD GIRL, THE (M)
CAST: Jennifer Aniston, Jake Gyllenhaal, John C. Reilly, Tim Blake Nelson, Deborah Rush, Mike White, John Carroll Lynch
PRODUCER: Matthew Greenfield
DIRECTOR: Miguel Arteta
SCRIPT: Mike White
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Enrique Chediak
EDITOR: Jeff Betancourt
MUSIC: James O'Brien with additional music by Stephen Thomas Cavit, Andrew Gross, Matt L. Lockhart
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Daniel Bradford
RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 24, 2003
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Entertainment
VIDEO RELEASE: October 22, 2003