Daniel Levy, most well-known for his role in Schitt’s Creek with his father, turns his hand to writing and directing, as well as starring in this brief meditation on grief and friendship. On the one-year anniversary of the death of his husband, Marc decides to take his closest friends on a trip to Paris. Once there, amongst the French capital’s highlights, he works his way through the complicated mess left over from his relationship and puts his friendships to the test.
The film opens with a Christmas party and sets up the relationships between the character’s well; shots of each coupling providing plenty of subtext for the following 1hr 40. However, once the promising (and frankly heart-breaking) opening twenty minutes finish, the film starts to lose its way, rerunning over the same ground. On the one hand, both David Bradley and Celia Imrie, as clearly more experienced actors, provide captivating performances, but this shows up the younger actor’s flaws. Perhaps this is most clear in Daniel Levy’s performance. Although I liked him in Schitt’s Creek, I don’t think he pulled the right amount of emotional weight to keep the film from becoming overly sentimental and at times, boring.
However, once the promising (and frankly heart-breaking) opening twenty minutes finish, the film starts to lose its way, rerunning over the same ground.
Moreover, the pretentious nature of the setting and trio’s upper class backgrounds work against the film’s subject matter. Levy refuses to shy away from the usual stereotypes of both London and Paris – the flat they stay in has a view of the Eiffel Tower, and there is a red London bus in seemingly every UK establishing shot. Furthermore, as obscenely wealthy late 30-year-olds, the beautiful apartments, expensive clothing – white jumpers that were at their peak with Chris Evans in Knives Out – and lack of employment starts to grind. If you’re having your most emotional conversations with your wealth manager, it quickly become hard to relate. Himesh Patel provides some balance to the cloying abundance, but his character goes only a little way to address the snobbish attitudes of his friends. Profound emotional moments do appear on occasion, but they are undermined by the odd pacing and anticlimactic finish. Of course, no amount of money can protect you from deep and painful heartbreak of early loss, more pain than I can begin to comprehend, and perhaps that is the films’ point.
If you’re having your most emotional conversations with your wealth manager, it quickly become hard to relate.
There are some positives; it’s beautifully shot by Ole Bratt Birkeland, and the score by Rob Simonsen does all it can to make you feel anything. Given its short run time and embrace of the January mood – there are pretty lights but grey skies – Good Grief is worth checking out if you have time this month. Just don’t expect too much and you might just be pleasantly surprised.