Female led revenge films are nothing new. In fact, you could say that several have surfaced every year since director Meir Zarchi delivered the controversial, I Spit On Your Grave back in 1978. Yes, a lot do exist, but I think I have lost count how many times they have left me leaving the cinema thinking, “Well, I’ve seen that plot a few dozen times now.”
The key to making a film in this genre work, is that the filmmaker must be creative enough to come up with something out of the box and never seen before. This is certainly the case with underrated Irish film A Good Woman Is Hard To Find, a film that seemed to be swept under the carpet as all the attention on the genre over the last twelve months have focused on the epic bomb Peppermint and the brilliant, award-winning The Nightingale.
When it comes to creativity, A Good Woman Is Hard To Find is certainly on par with The Nightingale. Directed by Abner Pastoll (Road Games) the film’s revenge seeker is Sarah (Sarah Bolger – The Spiderwick Chronicles), a young widow who wants answers around the murder of her husband.
Her husband was murdered in a park not far from their home and in front of their son who now has not spoken a word since the incident. Much to Sarah’s anger, the police do not want to know about the case and instead insist on telling her that her husband was most likely living a secret life as a drug dealer – a risky move when you live on the patch run by the notorious and unforgiving drug baron Leo Miller (Edward Hogg – Jupiter Ascending).
Adding to Sarah’s woes is the fact that she is now living in fear of opportunistic thief Tito (Andrew Simpson – Notes On A Scandal), who has managed to steal some of Miller’s stash and now keeps it at Sarah’s home. With her family already suffering, Sarah now must deal with the constant threats of violence that Tito delivers in order to keep her silence.
What I felt separated this film from the many others in the genre, is the great handle that Pastoll has on Oscar nominated Ronan Blaney’s (Don’t Go) screenplay. Blaney has delivered a gem of a script that brings in suspense by the bucketload and then to top that off, Pastoll then brings in his own style of gangster driven film noir that more than kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the film.
I should warn potential viewers, Pastoll doesn’t hold back when it comes to violence on-screen. To his credit though, I don’t think the violence was showcased for the sake of being violent, but instead I believe that the graphic violence that the director brings to the screen is there to show the brutal situation and events that Sarah has found herself in. In the wrong hands this could have become a virtual schlock thriller. In the hands of Pastoll, it becomes a well thought out suspense thriller that comes to an epic conclusion with a blood-soaked finale.
Credit also needs to go to the film’s leading lady, Sarah Bolger who is nothing short of sensational in this film. A lesser actress may have felt the need to rest her laurels on the action and suspense of the film, but here Bolger surprised, delivering moments of intense drama and as Sarah in such a way that I could not help but feel sorry for her character.
I found that there was nothing disappointing about A Good Woman Is Hard To Find and I am glad that it has now landed on DVD and VOD, as it made my ‘Top 20 Films Of 2019’ list after I was lucky enough to catch it on the festival circuit.