FrightFest 2019: A Good Woman is Hard to Find

Sarah (Sarah Bolger) is a woman under siege in this gritty revenge thriller from director Abnor Pastoll. With her young kids reeling from the gangland slaying of their father, Sarah has to deal with the accusatory stares that society reserves for young single mothers, fend off sexist policemen, and deal with an overbearing mother of her own. Her problems are only compounded when a chance encounter forces her into contact with the violent criminal underworld.

Sarah Bolger is outstanding as the young mother, desperate to maintain the fragile boundary that separates her children from the world of drug dealing and murder that she is being drawn into. Blending aspects of the home invasion, gangster and revenge thriller genres, the story takes her character from victim to survivor and through to vengeful predator.

There’s more than a little of the vindictive middle manager to Edward Hogg’s performance as Miller, the local crime boss. One can imagine him giving his sinister monologues, in which he compares himself to Putin and Hitler, to a Tesco shelf stacker who has forgotten to wear their name badge for the third time this week. This touch of nerdiness, however, only adds an extra sinister edge whenever Miller slips over into rage-fuelled brutality or casual cruelty.

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Crucial to the film’s success is the believable heightening of stakes, as Sarah is drawn inexorably into the criminal culture that took her husband from her. Prodded along by a mixture of fear and temptation, the film does an excellent job of layering the tension and incrementally increasing the sense of impending doom. Subtly bubbling synth in the score heralds the films slip into 80s revenge movie mode, but it never loses its emotional core, even when the violence meted out is at its most cathartic.

Abner Pastoll has created a lively revenge drama in the muted tones of a typical UK crime movie. The finished result is taught and lean, with expertly paced scenes and strong performances throughout.


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