Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Good Neighbours (2010) : Meh.

After watching Good Neighbours, I checked online to see how it fared on sites like Rotten Tomatoes (67% good reviews?) and IMDB (5.7).  I was actually surprised it rated that high, truth be told. 
It's not an awful film, by any means.  But it kind of felt like a movie you'd watch on IFC on a random Tuesday night. Nothing you'd seek out.

I think they were going for a film noir feeling here, but in my opinion it doesn't quite pan out.  Victor (Jay Baruchel) has just moved into an apartment building in the NDG section (that's Notre-Dame-de-Grace for us non-Canadian idiots) of Montreal, where news is spreading of a serial killer terrorizing the neighborhood. 
He quickly meets neighbors Spencer (Scott Speedman, in a role I'm sure Felicity would balk at!) and Louise (Emily Hampshire, truly the love child of Parker Posey and Ally Sheedy - I actually thought it was Parker for a moment or two in the beginning) and they trade awkward greetings.  Spencer is in a wheelchair after an accident the previous year that ended his wife's life.  Louise works in a Chinese restaurant, has two cats she obsesses over, and is equally as engrossed with the nasty details of the workings of said serial killer.  

Right away, I was a bit turned off by the characters.  While well written, I just couldn't find any of them remotely interesting enough to care about what happens to them.  Victor becomes weirdly captivated with Louise, who in my opinion is pretty much a dull washrag.  She isn't even the best pet owner, allowing her kitties to run wild all day around the complex while she is at work.  This doesn't sit well with Valerie (Anne-Marie Cadieux), an upstairs tenant who screams bloody murder out the window at the cats when they relieve themselves in her tiny flower garden below her window.  Upon further inspection, it's obvious Valerie is a bit off her rocker as well.  Seems her goal in life is to walk around her apartment in lingerie and a robe and shout obscenities into the phone to her lover/husband/doormat. She's throwing F-bombs around like a sailor.

To say this sets up as a quirky morality play is an understatement. While Victor goes over the top trying to impress both Louise (whom he wants to bed) and Spencer (whom he wants to be-friend), both of his objects of affection are too busy hanging out together - sharing a daily newspaper, discussing the serial killer's MO, and wondering how the investigation is going.  I wasn't sure if Louise was more concerned about her own safety or the graphic details of how the killer kills and rapes (apparently in that order) his victims.  The answer appears to be the former, as she does ask Victor to come pick her up from work and walk her home.  (My answer is 'how stupid can you be to have some newbie in your building that you know squat about walk you home through dark alleyways?')  Although admittedly, Victor seems about as dangerous as Steve Urkel.  He does however, have delusions that just because Louise asks for an escort home, it means she is ready to bed and wed her neurotic neighbor.  I just didn't get that feeling from her.  In fact, I didn't get much from her at all.  

While the writer did try to keep us guessing, I'll admit readily that the film felt like something I'd already seen, like on an episode of Forensic Files or perhaps Criminal Minds.  I deduced the killer's identity almost immediately, but stuck around anyway - just to see how it all pans out.  I can say that it made me continue to watch it longer than I probably should have. 

There is a lot of black comedy here, and some attempts that just don't go anywhere.  Some of the film is just downright oddball.  For long periods of time I wanted to shout "stop sitting there bumbling through stupid conversations that make you all look like the incredibly lame and boring people you are!"  Again, I realize they were trying to build the characters' relationships up and set their boundaries - but at times it just seemed forced.  

When it came time to actually dispatch of some of the characters, I didn't feel any remorse with each gruesome death.  Consequently, when two of the three friends (neighbors) work in tandem to try to bring down a serial killer, it was hard to get behind the reasoning and equally as difficult to give a shit about the other person.  Don't get me wrong, I love film noir and black comedies and everything else I think they might have been attempting, I just felt relatively emotionless watching it.  It was just so weird.  Long stretches with random or non-existent talking.  A few stolen moments where you think two out of the three may be getting overly chummy cause to throw a wrench in your original thoughts, but seriously - if you watch this with little to no expectations, you'll probably end up like me, curious as to how it all ends but ready to forget it about ten minutes later. Adding that extra "u" in the word neighbor did nothing for me.  Was it supposed to?
Ahh... you crazy Canadians.


The Mike said...

I was more on the positive side of indifference about this one - I can't seem to hate anything with a Rear Window complex -but I agree with a lot of your points. I didn't care for the actress at all, and came to the conclusion that they must have hired her because she was he only candidate that would do full frontal nudity. Which was awkward too.

Anyway, I thought it was a neat story at times, but you're spot on in saying the characters did it no favors. Good read!

Christine Hadden said...

I definitely agree that the film would have been really decent with a stellar cast. Imagining Michael Fassbender in the Scott Speedman role had me salivating...

I too, love Rear Window and found those elements of this film to be enjoyable. And like I said, even though it felt a bit off-kilter to me, I couldn't stop watching the darn thing to see how it played out!