Good Grief

Reeling from the death of his successful, charismatic husband Oliver (Luke Evans), Marc (writer/director Dan Levy, TV's 'Schitt's Creek') convinces best friends Sophie (Ruth Negga) and Thomas (Himesh Patel) to join him on a soul searching trip to Paris to indulge in some “Good Grief.”

Laura's Review: C

Dan Levy makes his feature debut with this well intentioned exploration of grief that succeeds with its realistically messy onscreen friendships but could have used some humorous breaks from its overt sentimentality.  A fine ensemble and cinematographer Ole Bratt Birkeland’s ("Judy") holiday glow help, but Levy’s continual tear jerking, some drippy dialogue and a syrupy score from “The Whale’s” Rob Simonsen make this one a bit of a slog.

A Christmas Eve party in a beautifully appointed London brownstone establishes life with Oliver as something fabulous.  The champagne is flowing, an Oscar nominated composer is at the piano and friends bask in the warmth of it all.  Then Oliver must depart and no sooner has he climbed into a cab when sirens signal tragedy.

Thomas, Marc’s one time lover, and Sophie spend a year helping their friend deal with his grief, leaving him on the anniversary of Oliver’s death so he can finally open that Christmas card Oliver left him.  The message isn’t at all what Marc, who’s been flashing back to his husband’s elaborate declarations of love, was expecting, an announcement of another man and a need to talk.  With Oliver’s publishers demanding repayment of a book advance, his financial advisor Imelda (Celia Imrie) recommends giving up the Paris pied a terre, an apartment she is dismayed to learn Marc knew nothing about.

Movies about the loss of a spouse uncovering infidelity have been done before and better, but “Good Grief” has its trio of friends to fall back on and as it turns out, they all have issues which will be laid bare their first night in Paris.  Marc, who conveniently met a Frenchman, Theo (Arnaud Valois, “120 B.P.M.”), before leaving London, will ditch his friends at a karaoke club to go out with him after Sophie, in denial over her breakup with long time love Terrance (Jamael Westman), has hooked them up with a bunch of strangers, leaving Thomas to deal with the resultant mess.  Just when the three have begun to smooth things over the next day, Luca (Mehdi Baki), Oliver’s lover, lets himself into their Parisian apartment with a key.  It is only then that Thomas and Sophie learn Marc barely found out about the place they are staying before they did and that Oliver was unfaithful. 

A few rounds on a Parisian Ferris wheel and some time back in London heel all wounds, leaving these characters in a good place.  The film also features “Harry Potter’s” David Bradley as Oliver’s dad, Kaitlyn Dever as an egotistical actress making an inappropriate eulogy (an awkward attempt at humor) and Emma Corrin as a pretentious performance artist.

“Good Grief” may work in fits and starts but it is just too clichéd and unwieldy, despite the efforts of a good cast.

Robin's Review: C+

Netflix opened "Good Grief" in select theaters on 12/29/23.  It begins streaming on 1/5/24.