Review: ‘Good Grief’

Dan Levy's Directorial Debut Contemplates Modern Grief With The Help Of Himesh Patel And Ruth Negga

In a time of gentle parenting and TikTok therapy, Schitts Creek star and co-creator Dan Levy brings us Good Grief, which contemplates the very millennial question “What is the right way to grieve?” 

Levy, who stars, writes, and directs this as his first feature, plays Marc, a long-happily married gay artist living in a renovated London townhome with his husband, Oliver (Luke Evans). During their annual Christmas party attended by Marc’s best friends Sophie (Ruth Negga) and Thomas (Himesh Patel), Oliver leaves early for a book signing in Paris. He kisses his husband goodbye, before handing him an envelope and saying they have a lot to discuss. 

Two minutes later, Marc looks out the window to see ambulance lights cruising down the street. 

To the viewer, Oliver’s death doesn’t leave Marc as devastated as expected. Thomas moves in and Sophie frequently visits, but Marc is functioning. As he starts to question his healing process, he finally opens up the card Oliver gave on the first anniversary of his death. In it, it revealed that his husband wanted a polyamorous relationship.

Through findings from his financial advisor, Marc discovers Oliver kept an apartment in Paris, indicating his lover may be there as well. Under the guise of a thank-you trip, he takes his three friends with him across the continent to investigate.

Because the story is filtered through Marc’s lens, his companions don’t get the same in-depth deep dives as the lead does. However, Good Grief’s final act leans into those arcs as if the script earned its payoffs. It’s slightly unsatisfying as Levy has written two compelling characters that Negga and Patel perform beautifully. 

Negga brings a youthful chaos to Sophie despite being a thirty-five-year-old woman. Her hot mess lifestyle is running its course on both her career and her relationship. Her drinking problem seems to come out of nowhere by the film’s end and its resolution feels unsatisfying. Patel’s Thomas is very vocal about other people’s issues but his own seem to not get enough airtime. His storyline should have been explored more. 

Moments of Levy’s script are gut-punchingly funny made so by great cameo character performances. Kaitlyn Dever pops up during the funeral scene as a vapid Hollywood starlet, grieving her career rather than her friend’s death. David Bradley is known for his fantasy and historical roles in things like Harry Potter and Game of Thrones but gives a quiet and captivating performance as Oliver’s father. Emma Corrin plays a young performance artist who is just how you think a young performance artist would be. Celia Imrie, however, almost steals the whole movie as Marc’s by-the-book financial advisor whose frank nature is undercut with biting humor. 

For a first feature, Dan Levy paints a wonderfully relatable and complex portrait of modern grief. While some of the character development is undercut by his vision, his balance of melancholy and comedy makes Good Grief a wonderful cinematic start to the new year. 

Good Grief is streaming on Netflix. Watch the trailer below.

'Good Grief'
A D.C area native, Cortland has been interested in media since birth. Taking film classes in high school and watching the classics with family instilled a love of film in Cortland’s formative years. Before graduating with a degree in English and minoring in Film Study from Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, Cortland ran the college’s radio station, where she frequently reviewed films on air. She then wrote for another D.C area publication before landing at Punch Drunk Critics. Aside from writing and interviewing, she enjoys podcasts, knitting, and talking about representation in media.
review-good-griefSchitts Creek star Dan Levy's first feature examines how younger generation experience grief in a beautiful and complicated way.