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Marina Antunes [Film Festival 12.07.10] Canada movie review news comedy thriller

Year: 2010
Director: Jacob Tierney
Writers: Jacob Tierney, Chrystine Brouillet (book)
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 8.5 out of 10

I’m convinced that if Jacob Tierney was working in the US, he’d an indie darling, a filmmaker everyone would be buzzing about as one to watch. Tierney has, rightfully, earned this title in Canada but a much smaller industry means smaller buzz but it’s alright because Tierney is quickly cracking the waters south of the border – I just hope that when he hits the big time, he sticks to the dark comedy that has made his films to date unforgettable.

While The Trotsky was an out and out comedy with some darker overtones, Good Neighbours is the reverse: a dark film and subject matter peppered with laughs. North American filmmakers tend to be less successful with this mix than film makers in Asia but sometimes a good one comes limping through the cracks. Tierney’s film doesn’t limp – it runs.

It’s 1995. Quebec is in the middle of a referendum and the Montreal neighbourhood of Notre Dame de Grace is the hunting ground for a serial killer. Louise and Spencer are neighbours who have developed a friendship. Spencer’s wife died in a car accident which left Spencer paralysed and he hasn’t left his house since the accident. He and Louise share a fascination with the serial killer and they often spend evenings talking and sharing a drink. There doesn’t seem to be anything romantic in their relationship but there does seem to be more than ‘just friends’ floating around the air. Victor, an odd sort of character, moves in upstairs and befriends the two neighbours, particularly Louise who he becomes infatuated with. She, on the other hand, accepts the friendship but is more interested in Victor’s cat. The trio form an uneasy bond and as the winter advances and the number of dead girls increases, things start to fall apart for the trio.

Tierney’s story is based on a novel by Quebecois writer Chrystine Brouillet but he’s added his own personal touches, most notably changing the year of the events, that adds another dimension to this story which already swings punches, some more subtle than others, at Canadian politics, language debates and relationships. Tierney’s film is most definitely a thriller but it’s easy to forget that when it so often meanders into other territory. The killer is slyly revealed early on in the film and yet the thrill of the story never dissipates. If anything, things get more interesting with every scene as each of the characters become increasingly paranoid and down right strange (not to mention the diverging story line with a constantly drunk neighbour who is having marital problems). When Louise and Spencer have an encounter that could mark the near end of the film, Good Neighbours continues to truck along and actually develops the story further. It just gets better.

Always a fan of Scott Speedman’s, it nice to finally see the actor coming into his own in roles that are both diverse and challenging and Spencer is no exception. It’s hard to pick a lead here as the trio, completed by Emily Hampshire and Tierney regular Jay Baruchel, are all central to the story and each bring a different element which coalesces into a fantastically dark and twisted vision which had me giggling profusely through one of the film’s most brutal scenes. Judging from the look on the character’s face, it was meant to be funny.

Good Neighbours hits all the right notes and builds a story that is smart, witty and a whole lot of fun. Definitely one to add to the watch list.

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