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  Good Woman is Hard to Find, A The Breaking Point
Year: 2019
Director: Abner Pastoll
Stars: Sarah Bolger, Edward Hogg, Andrew Simpson, Jane Brennan, Caolan Byrne, Packy Lee, Rudy Doherty, Macie McCauley, Susan Ateh, Siobhan Kelly, Sean Sloan, Nigel O'Neill, Daryl McCormack, Josh Bolt, James McCaffery, Mary Lindsay, Rafaela Dias, Diego Calderón
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: As she washes the blood from her body, Sarah (Sarah Bolger) reflects on the events that have brought her to this. She is a young widow, her husband having been stabbed to death in what she suspects is a gangland killing but cannot persuade the Northern Irish police to do anything because they have written off the case as precisely that, therefore not worth investigating. She holds a hope in her heart that she will be able to attain justice for her dead spouse, but the rest of her life is dragging her down into depression which she must fight against for the sake of her two little children. Everything she does now is to ensure they will be all right, but things will now get worse...

Although it flew under most audiences' radar, well-received at the odd festival until it escaped onto streaming, A Good Woman is Hard to Find nevertheless impressed many who did seek it out, and a lot of that was down to its superb central performance. Usually with gangland revenge tales from The British Isles it would be some guns 'n' geezers effort with a tooled up thug we were mean to be supporting at its core, but this was very different since Sarah is not merely disenfranchised in her world, she is a pathetic soul who has not one ounce of power here, belittled at every turn by a society that does not care about her plight, or actively despises her for getting into this misery.

Her mother (Jane Brennan), for one, has no tolerance for Sarah's desperation, convinced she has brought it on herself because she married a bad 'un who everyone thought was a drugs dealer, no matter that Sarah believes he was a better man that they all give him credit for. It is her conviction that the deceased was worth something, that her marriage and kids are worth something, that convinces us she has a point, and as the pieces of the plot begin to slot together, we are quickly on her side and wanting all those who torment her, even unthinkingly as a matter of going through their days, to be put in their places. But when the frequently tearful heroine is powerless...

Then something unexpected, though in this relatively small community, you get the impression she was bound to come into contact with members of that criminal element, when an actual dealer, Tito (Andrew Simpson), forces his way into Sarah's house as a hiding place from the gang members he has just stolen thousands of pounds worth of heroin from. This makes him a wanted man, but amplifying the widow's alarm is when Tito decides to stash the drugs in her bathroom, and begins to make himself at home since, like everyone else who treats her like shit, he is well aware she cannot do anything to prevent him from taking advantage of her essentially weak position. Where this becomes immensely satisfying is from the gradually accumulating victories she manages to acquire as she goes along.

Bolger here would have surely been up for a clutch of awards had the sort of panels who give out prizes deigned to give this a chance, but as it was she gathered a small bunch of fans who had seen her here and were keen to find out if she had been this good anywhere else (her psycho nanny movie Emelie was her previous, most high profile effort). Obviously a beautiful woman, in this she was utterly convincing in her appearance as someone who has not had a decent night's sleep in months, and her taut delivery of someone who has simply been pushed too far and the stress is prompting her into radical actions. Yes, the storyline was too reliant on coincidence, but she invested you so much in Sarah that you would not be too concerned; Edward Hogg as the grammar Nazi gang boss was also a memorably offbeat antagonist, like all the other criminals here blithely wading into violence with no grasp of consequences, serving up one of the tensest, most ominous thrillers of its day. You’ve heard of Chekov's gun? This threw Chekov's vibrator and Chekov's severed head into the bargain. Excellent, eighties-style synths from Matthew Pusti.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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