27th Aug2019

Frightfest 2019: ‘A Good Woman is Hard to Find’ Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Sarah Bolger, Edward Hogg, Andrew Simpson, Jane Brennan, Caolan Byrne, Packy Lee, Rudy Doherty, Macie McCauley, Susan Ateh | Written by Ronan Blaney | Directed by Abner Pastoll

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A Good Woman Is Hard to Find is a Northern Irish film about a young Mum who has been recently widowed, and with a willingness to go to any lengths in idea to protect her kids, seeks the reasons behind the murder of her late husband. Written by Ronan Blaney (Love Bite) and directed by Abner Pastoll (Road Games), it’s a crime thriller with a fantastic lead performance from Sarah Bolger (The Moth Diaries).

Bolger, is Sarah, a down-on-her-luck mother who is desperate to find out the information about the death of her husband, while struggling to make ends meet and support her kids, and she’s bloody great. She brings a real emotional depth to the character, seeming emotionally exhausted, frustrated and depressed, and she brings the character to life. The film is gritty, with the drugs, the streets, the thugs and the grey skies providing a backdrop to Sarah’s harrowing situation. As her hunt for the truth goes on and Sarah’s life spins out of control and things get more intense and much darker, Bolger just gets better and better. It’s impressive, both in story and in performance.

There are some truly detestable characters that we come across here, be it the gangsters, supermarket workers or even the police themselves, and so it’s really just Sarah alone that we root for, for her family and her future and for her need to figure everything out and find some kind of closure so she can move on with her life.

Andrew Simpson as Tito, a heinous thug with a foul mouth, lack of tact and an obviously violent past, is a character that stands out. He’s an awful prick of a character, he’s unpredictable and becomes the spark that sets the flame in motion for what the film becomes. Some of the cast are better than others, it must be said, but it is Bolger and Simpson that are at the top of the heap, both delivering excellent work in their roles. Edward Hogg, who plays the egomaniacal super-villain of the story, Leo Miller, the local mob leader, is on pretty poor form here. His performance feels stifled, awkward and stiff, the way he utters his words seems unnatural, especially at the side of the rest of the cast who deliver their dialogue with a realism that flows well with the plot. Aside from Hogg, I’d say the majority do a fine job. The positive side to Hogg’s odd performance is that it makes us want to see him get taken down a peg or six even more. The scenes of violence and effects are nicely done too when they happen, there’s even plenty of gore to be found at times in the film, with one scene in particular standing out to me as being pretty heavy viewing.

With a story that surrounds the hunt for truth amidst a world of drug dealing, gangs, violence and poverty, this is a movie that is done very well. From the cloudy and miserable estates to the grim place Sarah has found herself in emotionally, the story, with its twists and its turns in the road, is paced just right and unfolds nicely. An accomplished thriller that borders more on drama much of the time, A Good Woman Is Hard to Find is skilfully acted by most of its cast and written with a potent truthfulness that drives its quality even higher. A dark thrilling crime drama, I thought this was superb.

***½  3.5/5

A Good Woman Is Hard to Find screened on Monday August 26th as part of the 2019 Arrow Video Frightfest.

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