Coming to theatres from director Miles Joris-Peyrafitte and Vertical is the story of a family struggling and one woman trying to be THE GOOD MOTHER.
Marissa Bennings (Hilary Swank) works for the local paper but wants more. The problem is she is not treating herself well and it shows. During a morning meeting, son Toby (Jack Reynor), a police officer, tells Marissa that older son Michael (Madison Harrison) has been killed. At the funeral, Marissa recognizes the young Paige (Olivia Cooke) tells the grieving mother she is pregnant.
Trying to reconcile anger and grief, Marissa tries to be at least mildly pleasant with the young girl. They both want to find out what happened to Michael and begin sleuthing. It was clear that it has something to do with drugs as Marissa confronts Paige again about their problems in the past. Toby does his own police work promising the two women he will find the killer.
Paige and Marissa find a witness who says he saw something and that leads both women further down the dangerous rabbit hole. When tragedy strikes again, Marissa decides she is going to follow the breadcrumbs and what she discovers will change her life once again, forever.
Swank as Marissa is an angry, unsure, self-destructive yet extremely intelligent woman who needs to get it together. It doesn’t help that she has problems with a son and the death of loved one has kept her from being a part of life rather than destroying what little joy she could have. Swank goes all in and it is a rough role that, with her credentials, she makes look easy. The character of Marissa slowly realizes that the only way to put all the pain and harsh reality of her life in perspective is by writing about it, the one thing she is good at.
Reynor as Toby is a son who looks after his mother and all her problems. Being a police officer, he takes his duties seriously, almost as much as he does wanting to start his own family. Breaking the news to Marissa is difficult and helping her follow the trail brings about even more stress. Reynor is what would be termed ‘the good son’ out of two but Marissa isn’t any softer with him. He sees her destruction and just makes sure the explosions don’t leave too big a mess.
Cooke as Paige is a young woman devastated by the loss of her love. She tries to explain things to Marissa but doesn’t even know herself what happened. There are only bits and pieces but she knows enough to realize that someone is after her and the only place she can find protection is with Marissa. They come to a basic understanding as they both search for clues as to what happened to Michael. Cooke gives us the same brashness as Swank and the same stubbornness as well.
Other cast include Hopper Penn, Norm Lewis, Karen Aldridge, Dilone, Robert Loftus, Mikayla Schaefer, Laurent Rejto, and Cliff Ware.
Vertical Entertainment is a global independent distributor that offers a unique wealth of experience minus the studio costs. They have won a Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Actress for Molly Shannon’s role in OTHER PEOPLE and the film won a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Film Limited Release, Best International Film for Babak Anvari’s UNDER THE SHADOW, a BAFTA and three Independent British Independent Film Awards as well.
THE GOOD MOTHER takes a look at the struggles that people face when everything seems totally out of control. The character of Marissa feels things are ebbing uncontrollably away from her and the final straw is the death of her youngest son. The shut down mode prior to that was nothing compared to what she is more than capable of now.
She meets her match with Cooke’s character of Paige. That is because these two women are cut from the same cloth in that they have had their struggles, have hardened a lot, and will stop at nothing to find the answers to the death of Michael. At times they seem to work together and at times they seem still at odds with one another. The go-between of Toby promises to find his brothers’ killer but the twists are turns might be just a little much.
Keeping the film very focused on the mystery is absolutely meshed with twists, turns, misdirection and shocks. That is the beauty in films like THE GOOD MOTHER in that car chases, explosions, etc. etc., aren’t necessary to bring a mystery full circle. I enjoy getting a chance to find the clues for myself. The only slight downside is a bit of chop in the story here and there, but it’s not enough to turn me away at all.
In the end – life and death become a blurred line!