Dan Levy takes a lyrical dive in his feature film directorial debut, Good Grief.
Living in the shadow of his extravagant husband, Oliver (Luke Evans), Marc (Daniel Levy) was satisfied. Marc's life collapses when Oliver passes away unexpectedly, though, and he and his two closest friends, Thomas (Himesh Patel) and Sophie (Ruth Negga), embark on a soul-searching journey to Paris that makes them face some difficult realities. Levy makes his feature-film debut as a writer and director with Good Grief.
Remember when Alexis (Annie Murphy) asked for a hug from David (Dan Levy) after she broke up with Mutt (Tim Rozon) in one of the episodes of Schitt's Creek? That hug was soul-stirring and one of the most beautiful moments in the series. Good Grief also feels like the same, but that embrace takes a little yearning and longer to feel.
Levy helms this emotional drama as his first feature film, which extends the story of what could happen after David and Pattrick (Noah Reid) get married in an ideal world. Their love story demonstrated that a match truly happens in heaven. But Good Grief explores that heaven doesn't have a permanent residence on Earth, and acceptance of that grief is the norm.
The film explores the life of Marc (Levy), who is happy in his life with a perfect husband, Oliver (Luke Evans). He also has two best friends who complete his dysfunctional life: Thomas (Himesh Patel) and Sophie (Ruth Negga). However, a twist comes into the plot when Marc loses his husband right in front of his eyes, and that loss is irreparable in every possible way.
The beginning of the film is quite similar to that we saw in the Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Sam Heughen starrer Love Again; however, living on your own was the only option. But in Good Grief, Levy shows the dynamics of friends also facing losses, if not death, in life, which are unforeseen, and the only way to face them and get out of them is by finding solace in each other.
Levy uses a poetic and photographic mode to narrate his story with a slower narrative, getting in-depth into every sequence. The film, although one hour and 40 minutes long, feels stretched to the extent that it looks like a miniseries spread over four episodes.
Not that I am complaining, but Levy does have a convenient plot about getting his late husband (Evans) into a bad picture and him facing the loud noise with a thud of loneliness. In spite of this illuminating finding, Levy's enthusiasm for it is limited. By the time outside forces force Marc to fill in the blanks for his best friends Sophie and Thomas, the attention has shifted to the emotional impasse in their lives. The narrative is delicate without being overly inquisitive, and the closeness between the characters feels more artificial than genuine.
Good Grief delves into the meaning of its title as Levy uses personal experience to illustrate the multifaceted nature of love, loss, and grief. This remarkable (and occasionally tone-deafening) tale is, at its core, also about the complexities and significance of friendship. It follows three best friends as they embark on a transformative journey to Paris and experience more than they anticipated.
Despite the abundance of dramatic chances, Levy thankfully refrains from overdoing it. As much as anything else, it's an opportunity to zero in on three people whose shared struggles reach a breaking point in ways that expose long-buried facts about themselves and their relationships with one another. Levy, who is more renowned for his humorous talents, faces a hard balancing act in a picture that mostly deals with the process and cost of grieving.
It's clear from the outset that Levy is a master director and actor, whereas Negga is fantastic as the carefree and entertaining Sophie, and Patel is totally convincing as the believable friend who gets himself into a tizzy over his friends' unique and unexpected antics. The actor-filmmaker deserves credit as well for allowing these two brilliant actors to steal every scene they appear in. Marc is at the hub of it all, but he's carrying around a lot of baggage from playing so much and then dealing with the complicated reaction to the grim predicament Oliver has dealt him in death.
Although I wanted to like the film too much, as Levy has been one of my favourite talents since I witnessed his multihyphenated work in Schitt's Creek, it still lacks depth. And that's when there's no shallow moment in the film. But nevertheless, it's Dan "freaking" Levy; he deserves the best from his viewers, and so does Good Grief deserve a fair chance.
Dan Levy's film takes a poignant dive into the complexities of love, loss, and also friendship. The film has a personal touch of the actor-filmmaker which we have witnessed in his previous groundbreaking work, Schitt's Creek.