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The Good Girl (2002)

It’s her last best chance… is she going to take it?

Directed by:

Miguel Arteta

Rating: 4/10

Running Time: 93 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: United States

Hollywood’s other Jennifer – or ‘J-An’ as I’ve decided to start calling her – must be desperate to escape the typecast Hell of forever being seen as the bubbly unlucky-in-love 30-something she plays in ‘Friends’. So, in a cunning career move, she appears in ‘The Good Girl’ as a MISERABLE unlucky-in-love 30-something. Very shrewd indeed.

As title character Justine Last, she’s quite possibly the wettest, bitterest and most inexcusably selfish female character I can recall seeing in any film of recent years. Depressed with her supposedly meaningless small town life with her lummox of a husband Phil (John C. Reilly) and mind-numbing job in a local supermarket, she kicks off an affair with moody checkout operator Tom (Jake Gyllenhaal).

Tom’s self-consciously glum – he pretends his name’s Holden in reference to ‘Catcher In The Rye’, writes stories about blokes who commit suicide, and drones incessantly on about how no-one ‘gets him’. It’s this barrel of laughs who proves the catalyst for Justine to make a half-hearted attempt at escaping the dullness of her existence, though as you can guess from the overall tone of the proceedings, it’s all destined to end in tears.

This is actually billed as a dark comedy, though you’ll struggle to find too many belly-shakers in this gloomy portrayal of the apparent mundanity of small-town life. Yes, life can be mundane, it can be tedious and it can be pretty bloody lousy, but that doesn’t mean we need to make films about it.

As it happens, there are some good performances in this movie. Gyllenhaal is a fine young actor, Reilly is as reliable as ever, and as for J-An – it’s always good to be reminded that her talents stretch beyond rolling her eyes at the right point in a sit-com. But its 90 minute running time seems to take forever and a day, such is the sprawling pointlessness of it all.

It's Got: Some almost-murderous use of blackberries.

It Needs: For someone to define the term ‘comedy’.

DVD Extras Audio commentary with director Miguel Arteta and writer/actor Mike White, another audio commentary with Jennifer Aniston, out-takes, deleted scenes with optional commentary, and a phenomenally uninteresting alternate ending. DVD Extras Rating: 6/10

Summary

A well-acted but equally pointless and pessimistic production.

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