From the Academy Award®-winning producer of The Wolf of Wall Street, a journalist grieving the murder of her son forms an unlikely alliance with his pregnant girlfriend to track down the killers in the seedy world of drugs and corruption.

Pam says:

“The Good Mother” has all the bones of what should have and could have been a movie that everyone is talking about.  Unfortunately, it’s still just a skeleton with the characters and story yet to be fleshed out.  (I must be thinking about Halloween as I write this review.)

Hilary Swank stars as Marissa, a talented journalist whose drinking problem seemingly used as a coping mechanism after her husband dies, now learns that her drug addict son has been murdered.  His pregnant girlfriend, Paige (Olivia Cooke) shows up on Marissa’s doorstep, also a former addict, to band with Marissa to find the killer, supported Marissa’s prodigal son, Michael (Jack Reynor), a local Albany police officer.

So, what went wrong?  The script laid the foundation for the character of Marissa, but meandered too much and too long with this, creating extraneous background that did nothing to push the narrative forward.  Finally, when we get into the second act of the film, the pace picks up and we see a thrilling murder mystery begin to unfold with a surprise twist I certainly didn’t see coming.  And then, in the third act, eager to wrap up loose ends, our characters are put into preposterous situations and make equally preposterous decisions.  Marissa has some difficult decisions to make as a mother and now grandmother, but what ultimately happens is unclear leaving me completely dissatisfied with the conclusion.

What went right?  As I stated previously, the premise is intriguing!  The actors find and connect with their characters to create realistic ones and the tangled web of lies, deception, and regret intersect on multiple levels.  Swank gives us a gritty version of a woman who has suffered too much tragedy and Cooke loses that sweeter than honey persona to give us a deeper look at a young woman who has made a lot of bad decisions in her short life.  Reynor finds a uniquely layered performance as a city cop and together, this ensemble should have been in a thrilling hit.  With the script seemingly not yet complete and perhaps a too short of running time, the writers decided to push the foundational first act too far or perhaps there is a lot left on the proverbial cutting room floor during the pivotal second and third acts.  Whatever the case, the actors did their jobs well, but the final product just loses momentum and believability.

2 Stars



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