Was there ever a crime-thriller that came out of the United Kingdom that you weren’t immediately afraid to watch? Sure, they follow the same story beats but they play by entirely different rules. I still shudder thinking about some the smallest, cruelest moments in Danny Boyle’s A Shallow Grave (1994). Abner Pastoll’s A Good Woman Is Hard To Find carries the UK’s long-standing tradition of gritty storytelling in this violent tale of a woman pushed to her breaking point, and the ripple of a single decision as it tears through her entire life.
An official selection of the 2019 Fantasia Film Festival, A Good Woman Is Hard To Find is directed by Abner Pastoll (Road Games), from a screenplay by Ronan Blanley. The film stars Sarah Bolger (The Lazarus Effect) as the ordinary woman in extraordinary circumstances, Andrew Simpson (Notes on A Scandal) as the piece-of-sh*t thug testing his luck with the wrong woman, and Edward Hogg (Jupiter Ascending) as a grammar-obsessed psychopath (a favourite trope of mine, no matter how commonplace it’s become) on the hunt for the fools dumb enough to steal his hard-earned drugs.
“Make sure you buy your mum a nice bouquet of flowers before watching A Good Woman Is Hard To Find because you’ll never see her the same way again.”
Sarah is having a rough go of being a single mom. Her mother looks down on her from her high horse, her six-year-old son hasn’t spoken a word since seeing his father killed in front of him, and there just never seems to be enough money to cover the bills. She can’t even catch a break from slimy grocery store clerks that probably didn’t even wait for her murdered husband’s body to cool before they started assaulting her. Everywhere Sarah turns, someone is there to rub her misfortunate in her face or take advantage of her. When a local drug dealer forces his way into her home and tells her in no uncertain terms that the apartment is now his new hiding spot, Sarah does what she has to do to keep her family safe. But when his visits become more frequent, and his violent nature becomes more than she can handle…she does what she has to do to keep her family safe.
A Good Woman Is Hard To Find is certified suspense. Every moment of Sarah’s story is more tense than the last and each decision she is forced to make is between something incredibly horrible, and something irredeemably awful. No good can come of covering up a murder, and with child services breathing down her neck for every little thing, no good can come from calling the police either. Of course, they’ve been no help since they labeled her husband just another dead drug dealer and left her on her own. That feeling you have right now just thinking of this poor woman’s life are your lungs instinctively filing with air, doing their part to keep you from drowning. Sarah is treading water on a good day, and although she is a badass who will not let anyone come between her and her kids, she is entirely unprepared for the world of hurt pissed-off gangsters can rain down on a person.
There is a vicious streak that lives at the heart of this story as bold, and dangerous as Abel Ferrara’s Ms .45 (1981). But where the exploitation classic feels hot to the touch, A Good Woman Is Hard To Find is a loving, concrete-jungle story of a woman with no choices left. Sarah is pushed to limits and backed into walls that already feel like well worn thriller territory but Sarah Bolger is giving her everything as a mother watching the world continually deal her the shittiest hand. No matter the obstacle, (and believe me there are some BIG, ruin-your-life-forever obstacles in her way), Sarah rises to the challenge. With such a limited cast, it’s hard for some of the bigger turns in this movie to remain shocking when they come, but the real surprise is in the numb eyes of a mother chopping up a body in the same room she reads bedtime stories to her children. Make sure you buy your mum a nice bouquet of flowers before watching A Good Woman Is Hard To Find because you’ll never see her the same way again.
A Good Woman Is Hard To Find was an official selection of the 2019 Fantasia Film Festival. The Fantasia Film Festival runs until August 1, 2019 in beautiful Montreal, Canada. Click HERE to check out all of our continued coverage of the festival, and be sure to follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to see silly photos, immediate film reactions, and the occasional photo of lunch