Good Grief

Written and directed by Dan Levy

#grief, #loss, #drama, #friendship

This movie is for you if …. you want an exploration of grief and how it can change over time. It is also about friendship and love.

This movie may not be for you if… you prefer your films without strong language and adult themes; this one is rated R.

 

Oliver (Luke Evans) is Marc’s (Dan Levy) husband. The action opens with them hosting a party. Oliver leaves before the party is over. Shortly after he leaves sirens are heard. Oliver has been in a fatal car accident. His death sets up all the subsequent drama in the film. 

Marc’s grief is immediately complicated because before Oliver leaves the party he gives Marc an envelope, containing a letter. It takes Marc a year to open the letter. When he does it is revealed that the theme of his grief and loss (so central to the film) is complicated by the fact that his husband had fallen for someone new, Luca (Mehdi Baki). The letter explains that Oliver wants, or wanted to, explore that new relationship.

In this complex film, we are witness to Marc’s two-fold grief. Firstly, he is grieving the loss of Oliver’s life. Secondly, he’s grieving what would have been the breakdown of his marriage if Oliver had, in fact, further survived and pursued his new love interest. 

The film revolves around Marc’s grief and how he expresses it via his friendship with Thomas (Himish Patel) and Sophie (Ruth Negga). The three of them have many intimate conversations, discussions and arguments. Thomas and Sophie each have their own inner and outer struggles. For example,we learn that Thomas and Marc used to be lovers and it seems clear that Thomas is still in love with Marc. Despite this, and perhaps oblivious to it, Marc eventually starts up a new connection with a man called Theo (Arnaud Valois). 

The tensions come to a head when Marc takes Tomas and Sophie to Paris, just after reading Oliver’s letter. They visit a flat that Oliver rented without telling Marc and while they are there Luca (Mehdi Baki) turns up and says he has nowhere else to stay. (He lives in Berlin). Marc, Thomas and Sophie are almost forced to have Theo to stay, despite how clearly uncomfortable this is. 

Complex grief is a strong theme in this film. There is never an opportunity for Marc to grieve unimpeded. Indeed, he acknowledges that he didn’t grieve the loss of his mother either. He says when his mum died he found it too painful and he stopped painting (a pursuit he used to do professionally).     

It seems each of the three or four main characters represent a kind of archetype in the film. Marc represents the griever who is paralysed and can’t move on. Thomas represents unrequited love. Sophie represents wildness and unbridled, if not misspent, passion. Oliver (despite being dead) represents charisma, freedom and Marc’s muse.  

The film is an intricate portrait of grief and loss, betrayal and friendship. It is also an exploration of the beauty of art and its redeeming qualities. 

Good Grief is currently available to stream on Netflix.

Review by Matthew Hooper

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