'The Good House' review: Sigourney Weaver and Kevin Kline are lost in sloppy adult drama
Courtesy of Roadside Attractions
Adapted from the bestselling novel by Ann Leary and headlined by the enigmatic presence of both Sigourney Weaver and Kevin Kline, “The Good House” makes the east coast, specifically the shores of Massachusetts, look stunning, but this Lifetime move of the week disguised as an adult drama stumbles more often than it sizzles. It’s a film about relationships, battling addiction, and rekindling past relationships: all hallmarks of book-to-screen adaptations that struggle to translate in a visual medium. Unlike novels which allow longevity in fleshing out backstories and providing insight into the thousands of intersecting narratives, films must condense hundreds of pages into a crisp two-hour package. The best ones manage on the strength of their story, but “The Good House,” which is about a savvy realtor battling alcoholism and intersecting town gossip, seems tailored for fans of the books and not much else.
Weaver plays Hildy Good, a first-rate real estate agent in the fictional coastal city of Wendover, Massachusetts who is known for her speedy persistence and quick turnover. She’s also an alcoholic who justifies her drinking habits in a variety of methods, often breaking the fourth wall and talking to the audience as though we’re her best friend. “I only drink after 5” she proudly proclaims before guzzling three bottles of wine before bedtime. Word is getting out around town about the drinking, and it forces her kids to stage an intervention, all the while she laments to the camera about the countless setbacks endured in her lifetime. Like a former assistant poaching her clients, her husband leaving her for a man, and the one who got away, a local handyman named Frank Getchell (Kline) who owns and operates a home remodeling business.
Directed by Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky (who co-wrote the script with Thomas Bezucha), “The Good Houses” paints an interesting portrait of the daily livelihood in Wendover, though they fail to give the residents any interesting characteristics or sense of community. There’s a brief aside that Hildy can offer psychic readings (it’s never explained why she developed that fun habit); the romance between herself and Frank is half-baked at best (despite both of their charms elevating the material), and her role in a soap operatic subplot involving a scandalous affair produces more chuckles than concern.
This all builds towards a bombastic final twenty minutes so completely out of left field, I had to double check what movie was being watched. It teeters on camp, but then becomes full blown absurd and undoes any goodwill garnered from the charisma Weaver and Kline radiate. Save yourself the booking fee and avoid this ‘good’ house. For your sanity and mine.
THE GOOD HOUSE opens in theaters Friday, September 30th.