The Good Mother

September 1, 202340/1005 min
Oliva Cooke, Hilary Swank, Jack Reynor
Written by
Madison Harrison and Miles Joris-Peyrafitte
Directed by
Miles Joris-Peyrafitte
Run Time
1h 29min
Release Date
September 1st, 2023
Overall Score
Rating Summary

            Hilary Swank’s career doesn’t seem that of a two-time Academy Award winner. While she still was getting good roles, it seems those roles lessened after 2010. I am sure there is a reason that I have not seen, but for me, she is always one of the strongest parts of anything she is in. Needless to say. I was pretty excited to see that she was leading a new movie in The Good Mother, as it looked like a role she could really sink her teeth into. Well, good news is Swank once again delivers, I just with the movie was as strong as she was.

With its opening scene, we are thrown right into a chase where a guy in a grey hoody is gunned down. After that, we are taken to Marissa (Hilary Swank) waking up from what looks like one of those nights,as we see a near empty bottle of whiskey on her bedside table.  Marissa goes about her day and heads to work, looking like she is struggling on wanting to do anything other than drink herself to sleep. That attitude has also affected her work, as she once used to be a great writer for the local newspaper. These days however, she spends her time editing other people’s work. Her day is interrupted by her son Toby (Jack Reynor) who tells her that her other son Michael (Madison Harrison) was killed. Marissa is sad, but she has been estranged with Michael for a few years as he got deep into the drug game. At the funeral, they run into Paige (Olivia Cooke), who was Michael’s girlfriend and who also happens to be pregnant with his baby. After getting over some anger with each other, Paige starts to convince Marissa that things don’t add up, and soon they discover that nothing is how it seems.

Written by Madison Harrison and Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, the latter also directing, deliver more of a character study dealing with the grief caused by substance abuse. Instead of focusing on that, the marketing department labeled this a thriller and while there are thrilling aspects, it becomes more of a disservice to promote it as one. That is not the problem with the film, though, it does have its fair share of them.

Most of the issues that stem with The Good Mother lie with its script, which drifts into predictability pretty early on.  It is also very muddled, which takes awhile before you start to work out all the characters’ relationships. What makes this frustrating is that the cast, led by the always reliable Swank, deliver some good performances. What The Good Mother loses in its character work it makes up for in style, as the film has a great look to it. Unfortunately Joris-Peyrafitte focuses on that rather than giving the story more substance. That is a simple way of saying the cast didn’t have much to work with here, and even their performances can’t make up for a lack of courage from the filmmakers on taking any real chances with the very relatable subject matter.

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