Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: Zach Galifianakis Takes On Brad Pitt In Latest 'Between Two Ferns' Plus Louis C.K. Stops By Watch: Zach Galifianakis Takes On Brad Pitt In Latest 'Between Two Ferns' Plus Louis C.K. Stops By Watch: First Trailer For 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron,' Brings Mass Destruction Along With Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver Watch: First Trailer For 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron,' Brings Mass Destruction Along With Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver Watch: 'Star Wars' Prequels Recut Into 2 Hour 40 Minute 'Turn to the Darkside: Episode 3.1' Watch: 'Star Wars' Prequels Recut Into 2 Hour 40 Minute 'Turn to the Darkside: Episode 3.1' Edward Norton Says He Didn't Return To Play Hulk Because He Wanted More "Diversity" In His Film Roles Edward Norton Says He Didn't Return To Play Hulk Because He Wanted More "Diversity" In His Film Roles Oscar Buzz: Who Could Be Set For Nods In The Supporting Actress Race? Oscar Buzz: Who Could Be Set For Nods In The Supporting Actress Race? Juliette Binoche Says Her Performance In 'Godzilla' Made Quentin Tarantino Cry Juliette Binoche Says Her Performance In 'Godzilla' Made Quentin Tarantino Cry Listen To Chvrches "Get Away" From The Rescored Version Of Nicolas Winding Refn's 'Drive' Plus Check Out The Trailer Listen To Chvrches "Get Away" From The Rescored Version Of Nicolas Winding Refn's 'Drive' Plus Check Out The Trailer The Essentials: The 10 Best Michael Keaton Performances The Essentials: The 10 Best Michael Keaton Performances George Lucas Says Studios "Don't Have Any Imagination And Don't Have Any Talent" George Lucas Says Studios "Don't Have Any Imagination And Don't Have Any Talent" Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 5, Episode 7 ‘Friendless Child’ Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 5, Episode 7 ‘Friendless Child’ Watch: Spoiler-ific Local News Report On 'Batman v. Superman' That Caused WB To Lauch A Lawsuit Watch: Spoiler-ific Local News Report On 'Batman v. Superman' That Caused WB To Lauch A Lawsuit Watch: Baz Luhrmann's Chanel No. 5 Short Film "The One That I Want" Starring Gisele Bündchen Watch: Baz Luhrmann's Chanel No. 5 Short Film "The One That I Want" Starring Gisele Bündchen WTF: Horror Hit 'Annabelle' Yanked From French Theaters Due To Rioting WTF: Horror Hit 'Annabelle' Yanked From French Theaters Due To Rioting Gone Girls And Gone Boys: 11 Films That Dissect Marriage Gone Girls And Gone Boys: 11 Films That Dissect Marriage Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Review: 'Good Neighbours' A Lackluster Thriller & A Whodunit Without A Mystery

The Playlist By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist July 26, 2011 at 3:12AM

The following is a reprint of our review from the film's Canadian release in June
3


The following is a reprint of our review from the film's Canadian release in June

What happens when you're faced with the knowledge that you're neighbor is a serial killer? That's the question asked in "Good Neighbours" (it's a Canadian film, hence the spelling), the second collaboration between director Jacob Tierney and actor Jay Baruchel (they teamed on last year's tepid "The Trotsky"), a whodunit without a mystery and a thriller missing the thrills.

In the press notes to the film, the premise is describe as "not so much a 'whodunit' as a 'whosgunnagetit.'" It's a nifty approach which makes us wonder all the more why the film is still structured as a traditional Agatha Christie-style puzzler. When the film opens, Victor (Baruchel) has just moved to Montreal from Ottawa, but he couldn't have picked a worst time to come. It's winter and the city is edgy thanks to the upcoming referendum (the movie is set in 1995) in addition to a serial killer on the loose who is preying on young women. For his neighbors in the apartment building in which he lives -- the wheelchair-bound Spencer (Scott Speedman) and the loopy Louise (Emily Hampshire) -- both the referendum and serial killer are news items more for their entertainment than anything worth seriously considering, but Victor finds himself consumed by both. He takes to walking Louise home from work after a co-worker becomes the latest victim, and an early dinner party between the three is centered around the referendum results entirely at Victor's insistence.


But there's a problem right from the very first moments of the film. We know exactly who the rapist is. And while Tierney wants his film to be a "whosgunnagetit," his script still spends three quarters of the film getting to the reveal that you already know is coming. So, until we get there, a side plot -- that eventually folds into the main arc -- uncoils involving Louise and her neighbor Valerie (Anne-Marie Cadieux). Louise is a bit of a crazy cat lady (the way she acts around her two pets Mozart and Tia Maria is almost creepily erotic), and her four legged friends are getting into the garbage of the chain smoking, alcoholic and neurotic Valerie. Meanwhile, the clueless landlady Mme Gauthier (Micheline Lanctot) watches from the sidelines, hoping that Louise and Spencer hook up, and shaking her head at the exasperating antics of Valerie.

As the running time rolls on, the film becomes less of a "whosgunnagetit" into "whenaretheygunnafinallygettoit." Shot and set in Montreal, we wish we could say the surroundings gave the film a distinctive flavor, but sadly, they don't. Filmed in the Anglophone neighborhood of NDG, we suppose Tierney chose to set the film around the referendum to add an extra layer of tension to the proceedings, but it simply doesn't work. The film mostly takes place within the apartment complex of the three lead characters and our only real taste of the intense anxiety felt by both Francophones and Anglophones around the time of the vote is pitched through the borderline psychotic Valerie who is mostly a caricature of a pure laine Quebecois. As this writer lives in Montreal and knows how complex relations between French, English and those in between can be, the film barely begins to scratch the surface of those feelings. Worse, unless you're actually familiar with the politics, most of the talk around the vote will be meaningless and add little to the experience.

By time the third act arrives and Victor is forced to reckon with what he knows, "Good Neighbours" finally comes to life but it's far too little and much too late. Predictability plagues the film and even as Victor hatches an elaborate plan, audiences who have been half paying attention or even just walked in, will be able to figure out exactly what he'll do (the fact that he half explains it away to Louise doesn't help in establishing any tension). Eagle-eyed fans of Canadian film may be curious if only to check out brief appearances by Xavier Dolan and the excellent needs-to-get-more-work Kaniehtiio Horn. As for Baruchel, he does his standard awkward guy schtick to decent effect and a couple of laughs, and Speedman and Hampshire are solid but forgettable in their mostly one-note roles. And indie music fans take note: A Silver Mount Zion contribute some tunes to the score as do Franco rockers Malajube.

"Good Neighbours" is in many ways the perfect example of a Canadian production. Just above a made-for-TV production, quiet and underachieving, like the referendum that features in the film, it mostly feels like an outdated notion. [D]

This article is related to: Review


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates