Grief is a complex emotion. What happens when you lose someone who WAS your life. More importantly what happens when you lose someone whose personality you’d latched on to? What do you become, once they’re gone? Daniel Levy takes you on an internal journey (and Paris) to show you exactly what happens to the battered soul.
Now, in my mind, Levy has been associated with comedy (Schitts Creek, being primary of them), more or less. So I was very intrigued to see what he does with something about sadness and the feeling of loss. And dare I say, he treads those feelings really well. It may not be the best movie ever made on the concept of ‘moving on’, but it’s sure one of the better ones. Let’s get into the details of it –
Story & Screenplay
Marc (Levy) loses his writer husband Oliver (a charming Luke Evans) to a sudden car accident, and his world collapses along with it. You see, Marc’s identity, of late, was being the famous writer Oliver’s husband. Marc had no problems with the tag – he was content with being known as that.
After his loss, though, Marc loses his sense of self. He doesn’t know what or who he is, anymore. And in a bid to rediscover himself, he goes to Paris with his two best friends, Sophie (Ruth Negga) and Thomas (Himesh Patel). The three friends discover things about each other, and themselves, while traversing the picture perfect bylanes of Paris. Old feelings simmer up, pent up emotions show up at the wrongest of times. But hey, it happens at a bridge in Paris, or outside the Eiffel Tower, so we’re not complaining.
Daniel Levy, who also has writer credits, has written the script with a refreshing light heartedness. Even when things are grim, there’s an underlying humor to it. No matter what the situation, you almost expect something hilarious will show up, to pop the tension. And it’s been done really well! Such movies have a tendency to fall into the trap of being too existential or too philosophical. The good thing about Good Grief is that it never takes itself too seriously, without making a mockery of something as serious as death, moving on from it. The thin line has been treaded beautifully.
Levy clearly has a penchant for writing oddball characters with funny quirks, and he does so here as well. Good Grief, as a movie, is the answer to the question – what if a major character died in Schitt’s Creek? And it has been answered in a wholesome way.
Daniel Levy, the director, has an almost Karan Johar – esque touch when it comes to shooting sanitised shots. All three of the main characters have artistic jobs, so they have an excuse for showing them all to ‘look’ classy and artistic. But it’s not to say that Good Grief is all gloss and no substance.
The characters all have depths (which unravel at their own pace), and by the end of it, you can almost predict how a certain character will react in a certain situation. That’s a win for a director in my book – that the characters have been made so familiar (and relatable, to an extent) that nothing seems out of place.
And given Levy’s mastery over comedy, it’s a given that the funny scenes are very well handled, and for some, might even be the highlight of movie. They’re truly memorable.
In a way, Paris becomes the character’s state of mind- sometimes dark and gloomy, but always beautiful. And with a bagel always round the corner. Daniel Levy has done really well to bring it forth.
Daniel Levy, the actor, does well to balance the emotional scenes with the occasionally funny moment. This is (I think) the first time we are seeing him portray sadness on screen, but if it looks so beautiful, we all want more of it. Luke Evans, in his extended cameo, looks suffienctly dreamy and desirable, but he didn’t have much acting to do here.
Himesh Patel as Thomas is a hoot to watch! It’s so heartening to see his growth as an actor from Yesterday (2019) to here. Watch out for him, especially in emotional scenes. Ruth Negga as Sophie completes the trifecta, and she is ever as charming, and yet resilient. The trio has such good chemistry, that you almost want to see more of them.
Good Grief is a charming little film about moving on, that will tug at your heartstrings and leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling. Kind of, you know, like Paris itself. Now streaming on Netflix.