“Good Grief”


Metacritic (6/10), Letterboxd (3/5), Imdb.com (6/10), TMDB.com (3/5)

Wrapping one’s hands firmly around a heady subject can be quite an undertaking, and rising up to that challenge may take some serious doing. However, without a solid foundation to support such a venture, it’s easy to fall prey to the task exceeding one’s grasp, which, unfortunately, is the case with the debut feature from writer-actor-director Daniel Levy. As the title of this offering suggests, this ambitious production seeks to tackle the subject of overcoming unrelenting sorrow, specifically that of a middle-aged gay Londoner (Levy) who loses his husband (Luke Evans) in a tragic accident, leaving him grief-stricken for an extended time. He has the boundless backing of his best friends (Ruth Negga, Himesh Patel) to help him work through his sadness, but that condition only deepens when unexpected revelations emerge over the course of the next year. So, with no appreciable relief in sight, the trio decides to radically change direction, embarking on a long weekend trip to Paris to heal and to get back into the swing of life. However, it’s a journey that ends up being filled with the emergence of secrets and hard truths for all involved, faintly offset by the prospect of difficult but potential fresh starts. To its credit, this is a film that clearly has its heart in the right place, but it often feels like it’s struggling to say what it earnestly wants to express. The emotions are sincere, and the feelings are palpable, but their execution frequently misses the mark. Their expression often feels incomplete, conveyed through dialogue that plays more like stilted, scripted prose than authentic, natural conversation. That’s regrettable, given the strength of the performances, which genuinely attempt to communicate these emotions, both of the principals and a fine ensemble of supporting players, including Celia Imrie, David Bradley and Arnaud Valois. “Good Grief” feels like one of those projects that should have gone through another round of script revisions before being committed to film, particularly in light of the depth of the subject matter involved here. Grief isn’t easy, and neither is telling stories about it that come across as heartfelt and real. Regrettably, this isn’t one of them.