Is there such a thing as a bad time shared with Sigourney Weaver and Kevin Kline? I’m hard-pressed to think of one. Reuniting for the third time in alcoholism dramedy The Good House, Weaver and Kline are like two old friends who visit one another every few years, but each time they do it’s like they never missed a beat. Their welcome presence is enough to overcome many of the film’s tropes about addiction and recovery, and there are many.
It’s so good to see Weaver take center stage again, as it doesn’t happen nearly enough anymore. As Hildy Good, real estate agent in the wealthy coastal New England town of Wendover, Weaver’s tough, take-no-shit demeanor is perfection. The first time Hildy turns away to address the viewer directly, breaking the fourth wall Deadpool-style, it’s one of those “Oh no” moments because this so often leads to disaster. But it actually works quite well here. A functioning alcoholic whose drinking has worried her family into an intervention, Hildy uses us as her sounding board, her confidante, her secret keeper. It’s hard not to engage with the likable Weaver when she’s speaking directly to you. Who doesn’t want to help Ripley out of a jam?
Hildy has a lot on her plate, and of course, a few bottles of wine helps to cope. Once the top real estate agent in her region, she’s been supplanted by a former assistant who has stolen all of her clients; her family staged the aforementioned intervention; her new best friend (Morena Baccarin) is a loose cannon with a big secret; Hildy can barely afford to maintain her pricey lifestyle; her husband left her for a man; and then there’s the fact that her mother, also an alcoholic, drank herself to death. The spectre of that tragedy looms large. Kline fits in as, Frank, a local contractor whose gruff exterior hides a heart of gold and a longtime fondness for Hildy. He’s seen her at her best but knows her worst. He could be exactly what she needs, but is she what a stable guy like him needs in his life?
Adapted from Ann Leary’s novel by writer/director duo Maya Forbes and Wally Wolodarsky, The Good House travels confidently into well-worn addiction drama territory. It can’t avoid being heavy-handed as Hildy navigates the road to recovery, but takes a few narrative twists to try and keep the viewer on their toes. Ultimately, it veers back into familiar terrain, which is itself a quiet comfort because these movies occupy a rare space nowadays.There are subplots that serve only as distractions (a missing Autistic boy, a suicidal neighbor), but when left in the hands of Weaver and Kline, The Good House leaves us hoping that actors of their experience and obvious screen chemistry will be reunited again sooner rather than later.