27 May 2012 | secondtake
A small independent pseudo thriller comedy...charming and fun
Good Neighbors (2010)
A Canadian indie thriller with spritely charm. Yup! The cast is small, the concept cute and macabre (both), and the filming and editing first rate. This is the latest installment of what is a new genre, mostly American, where a bright, lighthearted tone keeps a relatively serious theme tipped on edge the whole time.
It's almost as if the filmmakers are tired of high drama movies, from true horror films to action adventure to even the moving dramas that win the awards. It's also, though, a product of budget, and making the most of small resources. "Good Neighbors" is in many ways a perfect small movie.
Imagine the most common of situations--a small apartment building where two main characters each have an apartment. One is a disgruntled young woman with two sweet cats, her only real friends. The other is a charming handsome man in a wheelchair, with a cynical and mean interior. Then a newcomer arrives, all sweetness and kindness.
Meanwhile, a serial killer is in the neighborhood, and the woman in particular follows the story for her own self-preservation. Because it's a tightly constructed movie you suspect that one of the three has something to do with the killings, but maybe not, as a fourth apartment dweller makes her viciousness known. This is the turning point, and things get complicated in a funny/tragic way in the last quarter of the film.
As convincing as all these characters are (most of the time), there are few holes here and there. One of them is the series of crimes, and the minimal presence of the police (and rather unconvincing tough detective who looks better than he sounds for the part). In a way we're not supposed to believe or care about the crimes themselves, but in another way, the crimes become, increasingly, the whole movie. Thank goodness for the director that the Montreal police are apparently pretty relaxed about gathering evidence.
Never mind the nitpicking, however. If you like the "indie" feel of movies like "Timer" or even "Juno" (which is better overall), this one will really take you in. It's a "delight" in the best sense of that word.