The Good House (2021) Review: The Intense Disillusionment of a Top Alcoholic
Unresolved trauma, pathological denial in the form of Sigourney Weaver breaking the fourth wall, and generational ignorance about mental illness make up this dark dramatic romance set in the fictional fishing town of Wendover. Weaver’s Hildy is a badass real estate agent who grew up in a “suck-it-up” environment and self-medicated with alcohol to function. Adapted from Ann Leary’s novel, “The Good House (2021)”; The moving film by Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky takes a very hard look at the frightening and dangerous face of alcoholism that Hildy breaks the fourth wall to most blatantly deny. His way of addressing the public to justify his alcohol consumption is, in essence, a form of self-delusion that maintains his addiction. An alcoholic drinks alone, but she drinks in the presence of her dogs. “Wine isn’t really alcohol,” nervous Hildy thinks as she stuffs boxes full of bottles into her basement.
Our lead role is adorned with two daughters who care about her, an old flame providing enough comfort and warmth to sustain her no doubt, and her job which, even though it has supported her and her family for long, now suffers because of her drunken recklessness. So why drink? Why fall back after rehabilitation? Forbes and Wolodarsky attempt to remove these exact problematic questions that under-recognize, if not completely invalidate, the often festering wounds that lie beneath and enable addiction. Hildy’s problems, no matter how hard she tries to bury them, come to the surface, showing the people and us around her that her every move is a cry for help – help she would push away. most likely like an irritable child. But that doesn’t mean you have to stop trying.
Weaver’s unsurprising outburst provides a solid foundation for Hildy, who is secretly struggling, to continue with “Season of the witch” playing in the background. Holding her daughters at bay, Hildy continues to self-destruct and hides her weaknesses under the seemingly solid image of a woman her gay husband left behind. But that’s not the cause of his drinking, as sad trophy wife Rebecca (Morena Baccarin) casually jokes. Rebecca’s affair with psychiatrist Peter Newbold (Rob Delaney) gives way to Hildy and Peter’s conversations that reveal the sad truth about Hildy’s traumatic childhood. Remembering her young self finding her mother’s body after her suicide is certainly not the kind of reality slap Hildy needed as we see her drown even more in booze.
She appeases, nonetheless, when her old romance rekindles with Frank (Kevin Kline). The on-screen intensity of Weaver and Kline growing with a greased lobster dinner and a dance gives us hope for Hildy. But as wholesome and loving as Frank is, he is at the same time a clueless enabler. The earlier humorous approach of Hildy calling her blackouts “jackpots” grows darker and darker as her addiction worsens and slowly destroys her life.
The film delves into the barely explored issues facing the Dwight family, with the town ignoring the needs of their autistic son Jake (Silas Pereira Olson). With the risk of the stream straying from the ultimate goal and scattering all over the place, The Good House takes a bit of liberty when it comes to introducing sensitive tropes that clearly require more careful handling. But the loyalty lies in the fact that Hildy is at the center of the story. And it is in his world that all the other characters live.
Weaver’s talent salvages a script that is often muddied by distractions by bringing more to the character who would struggle in the hand of a lesser actor. All of Hildy’s quirks and awkwardness, her emotional denouement hidden beneath the front of indestructibility she puts up, come to life with the actress’ unparalleled comedic timing shrouded in the sinister cloak of pathos. With the charming romance made hopeful by Kline’s impressive depiction of a loving man who will be there for her unconditionally, Hildy quitting her addiction, for now, is believable. But will she stick to it?
A Good Home (2021) Ending Explained
Does Hildy accept the reality of her alcoholism?
Coming from a generation of people who liken seeking help to complaining, it’s no surprise that Hildy’s way of dealing with emotional turmoil is to sweep it under the rug and never talk about it. She keeps her daughters at bay, especially when their conversations get too real. For Hildy, driving drunk is a lot less nerve-wracking than the idea of opening up. Walking away far too many times with her drunken recklessness has given her a terrifying confidence that can potentially put her and those around her in grave danger.
When Frank, annoyed by her relapse, asks her to go home and sleep, the arrogant Hildy, in her drunken state, throws caution to the wind as she always does and decides to drive drunk anyway. The next morning, Frank is woken up by frightening news, bewildered Hildy tries to remember the events of the previous night. Frank shows her the broken car and tells her that Jake is missing. Going mad, considering the possibility that she may have hit Jake with his car and not check in, Hildy continues to deny her blackout. As the town forms search parties to find Jake, Hildy opens another bottle and finds herself in tears when it falls and breaks. Her ultimate breakdown begins to take place when she hallucinates talking with Peter and him reassuring her that Jake is fine.
When the cops, searching for Jake, find Peter’s lifeless body in the water, Hildy is distraught. It’s not just the hallucination that frightens him; it’s also the fact that she realized the real cause of Peter’s death – he ended his own life. Having another close encounter with suicide shakes Hildy out of her denial. She ends up breaking down and asking for help. This time, she goes to rehab on her own and really tries hard to work on herself. The characteristic happy ending supports the romantic aspect of this film, Hildy being carefree and satisfied with Kline. As the two navigate a lobster boat, the film’s message becomes clear. Addiction needs help. Help to be embraced with the support of loved ones and their desire for a better life – as the very apt cliché goes, “admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery”.