Good People – Review

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Are you a good person? Because that’s the question that lingers over this Henrik Ruben Genz production, as you put yourself in the shoes of the protagonists and pose the question: what would I do? For Tom (James Franco) and Anna Wright (Kate Hudson) have found a substantial amount of money in the apartment of their dead neighbour – and they deliberate over keeping it, or handing it in to the police – eventually opting for the former.

Tom discovers the money moments after he finds his tenant’s body, and though calling Detective Inspector John Halden (Tom Wilkinson), having received an eviction notice just that day, he decides the money could be the new start both he and his wife need. Deciding to give it two weeks before spending anything, they aren’t given that long before the savage criminal Jack Witkowski (Sam Spruell) tracks them down. He knows they’ve got the money, and what’s worse, he wants it back.

Genz’s first feature in the English language is undoubtedly an accomplished one, but as we progress towards the finale, it becomes all too generic – which is such a shame given that the opening act is so compelling and sets the story up perfectly. Much of that is down to the way the two protagonist’s slowly start to change. In the beginning they are just like you or I, that’s the entire point. We need to embody them and thus immerse ourselves in this narrative – which we do. But then they become distinctively less relatable, acting more as movie stars do, than the regular people we had initially perceived them to be. They are lacking depth too, which is also the case of the chief antagonist Witkowski. Though Spruell makes for a very compelling villain, in this instance he’s got very little to work with, with a lack of nuance or vulnerability to his role – which are generally components in crafting a more layered, human creation.

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Much of the same can be said about Omar Sy, who plays Khan – another criminal caught up in this labyrinthine set of affairs. The talented actor simply isn’t in the film enough, and given his screen presence, that’s always going to be of great detriment to any film he’s been cast in.

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About Stefan Pape

Stefan Pape is a film critic and interviewer who spends most of his time in dark rooms, sipping on filter coffee and becoming perilously embroiled in the lives of others. He adores the work of Billy Wilder and Woody Allen, and won’t have a bad word said against Paul Giamatti.

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