Dan Levy wrote, directed, and starred in his latest creative endeavor, an incredible feature-length drama (But comedy? And adventure? And love story? And platonic love story?) titled Good Grief. Upon first hearing the idiom used as the title of the film, you can identify the double entendre and understand immediately that this film will envelop you in detail. Written in the aftermath of the losses of both his grandmother and beloved dog, Levy’s investment in the film allows you to witness a perspective both so specific and yet incredibly relatable.
Good Grief brings us Marc (Levy) and Oliver (Luke Evans), a beautiful couple residing in London, together for 15 years and living a life of luxury and cohesion. Within the first few minutes of the film, so much attention is paid to Marc’s perfect life. As he hosts a holiday party in their home, his friends keep commenting on how perfect his life is, how attractive and amazing his husband is, and every other shining detail of his life.
The concept of the film is available in every trailer and description, so I go into this without fear of spoiling this detail. As Marc’s husband Oliver leaves the party for a work trip, his cab is in an accident — within sight of their shared home. The film is about how Marc approaches everything in the wake of Oliver’s death. Dealing with the harsh realities of loss, and struggling with the way grief can possess a person’s mind, body, and soul.
While I headed into my early-morning viewing of this impossibly emotional film with the complete understanding that I would weep, I was surprised to find that I did not – in fact – shed a tear. Perhaps this is because of the impossibly difficult pill to swallow that Levy’s character – Marc – is exposed to a year into his grieving process. As one would, he experiences a bevy of new emotions around his realization.
My brain almost felt like it couldn’t keep up with the conflicting pieces of the plotline. Everyone loves Oliver. You want to love Oliver. But Oliver wasn’t perfect, because no one is perfect. How do you rectify his actions, emotions, and thoughts before he passed, when conversations were not had, apologies were never made, and closure was not experienced?
Some of us haven’t had to deal with reconciling our memories of someone we can no longer have closure with. Some of us have. Either way, this film raises so many questions about how personal coping mechanisms can heal us, and how others can be a crutch at times.
Good Grief explores how other people related to the deceased handled the loss in the year that followed. Thomas (Himesh Patel), for example, is Marc’s ex who still carries a torch for him. His supportive behavior leans adoring throughout the film, and you know there will be conflict around it at some point. (How it resolves, and the feelings you go through while witnessing it, is so much more REAL than I had expected, to be honest.)
Sophie (Ruth Negga) is a very close, old friend of Marc’s – the one who initially set him and Thomas up back in the day – who seems to struggle with identity in the year following Oliver’s death. Though the characters refer to her troubled, “messy” ways multiple times throughout the film, it seems to be reaching its peak in that timeframe.
Scene stealer Imelda (Celia Imrie) pops in and out with lessons of her own as Marc’s financial advisor. Her brash attitude makes her all the more fun to peel back the layers on as the story unfolds. And those of us more familiar with David Bradley as Filch in the Harry Potter series will adore him as Duncan, Oliver’s father, who also makes some incredibly notable remarks in the wake of his passing.
Overall, this is a wildly enjoyable watch. It’s so real. Even without tears, I was a pile of emotions and confusion and thoughts. Good Grief is definitely a conversation starter and a story of redemption — for everyone.
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