A GOOD WOMAN IS HARD TO FIND
Written by Ronan Blaney
Directed by Abner Pastoll
In 2015 director Abner Pastoll took Frightfesters onto the lost highways of France with horror icon Barbara Crampton. To close 2019’s 20th anniversary celebrations of Frightfest he’s exposes you to the harsh realities of a housing estate in Northern Ireland. Here we find Sarah, a recently widowed young mother, played by Sarah Bolger – the titular star of EMELIE (2015). She’s just about holding her life together, when an opportunistic petty criminal, Tito, chooses her home as his storage facility for a stolen drugs haul.
Now begins a transformative journey from frightened and timid to full on avenging angel. Her opposing force is Leo Miller, the original owner of the stolen drugs. He begins a Tommy Lee Jones, FUGITIVE-style shake down of Sarah’s estate. As the net closes in, she discovers truths about the death of her partner she finds hard to stomach. This new information, coupled with the grief she’s suppressing explodes into violent and bloody retribution.
Doncaster’s Edward Hogg excels as the psychopath, gangland boss, Miller. His menacing displays of pedantry, mid-torture, are both disturbing and delightful. But it is Bolger who carries the film and she rises to the harrowing occasion once the knives are literally out and dead bodies start piling up.
The deprived, inner-city setting grounds A GOOD WOMAN IS HARD TO FIND in the quasi-lawless world Andrea Arnold explored in RED ROAD. However, the film’s strengths lie in Sarah’s David and Goliath fight for justice, where she’s no support network and the police can’t or won’t help her. Once Ronan Blaney’s excellent script rids Sarah of the law-abiding boundaries that confine her to the victim of the story, it becomes the perfect immoral launching pad for the unrelenting survivor of his grim tale. While widely different in execution, and outcome, the nature of her fightback brings to mind Michael Caine’s reluctant, but determined hero in HARRY BROWN. Naturally, we worry she’s gone too far, because she has, but we cheer her on nonetheless.