The Atlantic Film Festival 2010: Good Neighbours

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Good Neighbours

Directed by Jacob Tierney

I deliberately tried to walk into Jacob Tierney’s Good Neighbours without knowing much by way of plot. One thing I did know was that there was no way the word “good” in the title is to be taken literally. And that it probably wouldn’t be quite as lighthearted and fun as his last movie, The Trotsky. Boy was I right. These are maybe the worst neighbours in history – except maybe James Stewart’s in Rear Window.

The neighbours in question are Louise and Spencer, played by Scott Speedman and Emily Hampshire. They are neighbours to Jay Baruchel’s Victor, who has just moved back to Notre-Dame-de-Grâce after a teaching stint in China, just as a serial killer is killing girl after girl in their neighbourhood. Victor immediately takes a shining to the pretty, cat-obsessed Louise and tries to befriend the aloof Victor. who happens to be confined to a wheel chair. Both of them elude his attempts to get closer for different but equally troublesome reasons, up until the shocking and electrifying climax and conclusion.

Most of the film centers on the three titular neighbours, played by Speedman, Hampshire and Baruchel. While Hampshire was just fine in The Trotsky, here she has a constant air of trying too hard, which unfortunately makes a lot of her lines seem very stilted and some of her scenes very hokey. Speedman is excellent as the mysterious and hard-to-read Spencer, and proves once again that he is more than a heartthrob.

The real standout here, however, is Baruchel as Victor. He has made a career out of playing the straight (albeit slightly awkward) man and he does it better every time. Frankly speaking, he is the actor Michael Cera wishes he could be and Jesse Eisenberg is on the brink of becoming. Here again, Baruchel plays a loveable and at times nearly pathetic guy that you just can’t help sympathizing with. He plays the part so earnestly and seriously that I find it said that he has to take on roles in such terrible films as The Sorcerer’s Apprentice instead of being recognized as the great actor he is. While some of the plot is a bit predictable and awkwardly written, Jacob Tierney does succeed in giving us an exciting and thrilling black comedy that is at times ridiculously funny and at others shockingly terrifying and graphic.

Laura Holtebrink

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