In the recently released Netflix film “Good Grief,” penned, directed, and acted by Daniel Levy of “Schitt’s Creek” fame, the narrative unfolds around a heart-wrenching premise.
The protagonist, Marc (played by Levy), grapples with the sudden demise of his spouse, Oliver (portrayed by Luke Evans). However, the storyline takes a twist when Marc uncovers a distressing secret about Oliver’s deceit. This revelation shatters Marc’s world, and as the movie progresses, various characters, including Marc, confront intricate lessons on grief.
The film delves into diverse manifestations of grief, extending beyond the conventional realm of mourning the departed, exploring themes such as unreciprocated love, reflections on past selves, and unexplored possibilities. “Good Grief” highlights that grief, in its myriad forms, can coexist and manifest in unexpected shapes and sizes.
At the core of the film “Good Grief” lies the intricately crafted relationship between Marc and his husband, Oliver, even though Oliver’s presence is limited to just a few minutes at the start. The narrative unfolds primarily a year after Oliver’s untimely demise, with the pivotal moment occurring when Marc stumbles upon a Christmas card concealing a hidden secret. This discovery sets the stage for the profound emotional journey that Marc undergoes throughout the film.
The movie delves into Marc’s journey of self-discovery, unfolding against the backdrop of his accomplished career as a writer and following a lengthy marriage.
Marc is someone who has run away from a lot of his problems, into a much more comfortable situation for himself. The movie explores how long you can really avoid coming to terms with the things in your life that really matter and impact you in ways you would have never thought.
Friendships Are The Love of Life
Good Grief is not just a movie about loss. It’s about friendships that stand the test of time and friends who are there for you as long as you need them. It shows that as you age, and if you’re someone without a partner or children, it’s the strong friendships that you have maintained that always support you. The affectionate and profoundly emotional connection that deepens with your close friends as you grow older is truly heartwarming.
At the heart of his friendships is Sophie (Ruth Negga), an electric soul, who could be easily called the life of the party. But she, too, is running away from herself. There’s grief and heightened emotions in her life too. But she is there for him when he truly needs her.
Marc’s other friend is Thomas (Himesh Patel), with whom he has had a short relationship in the past. Thomas is a great friend but not without internal struggles of his own. He truly never got over his relationship with Marc, and finds himself lonely in life. “It’s never me. I’m never the one,” he says in a scene with all three sitting together. And it strikes a chord.
It’s met with silence from Marc, but it says way too much. Everyone is struggling, everyone is dealing with loss and grief in their own way, and that grief is not a linear emotion to be felt only in one way. And that grief is universal. There are multiple faces of grief, and many times, it strikes people in ways that they may not have noticed.
But amid all this, it’s the friendships that you nourish that stand the test of time. Friends are also the loves of your life. Marc, Sophie, and Thomas are in their late 30s, and the movie teaches a lot about how friendships evolve as you turn older. It’s a mature take on love, friendships, loss, and coming to terms with it.
Life After Loss
This film creates an inviting atmosphere that one would wish to inhabit, characterised by the exquisite decor, radiant lighting, and a cosy sense of affluence.
Oliver, the creator of a successful young adult book series reminiscent of Potter-esque fame, bequeaths financial comfort to Marc, leaving him with a splendid residence where his friend Thomas seamlessly moves in for companionship.
The narrative liberates itself from the typical challenges of sudden loss, like financial struggles, allowing “Good Grief” to delve into more existential and emotional complexities. The film explores the profound repercussions of intertwining one’s life with another, pondering the aftermath when that connection is abruptly severed. In the face of love vanishing unexpectedly, the movie prompts reflection on how one can navigate life onward.
The answers are intricate, as individuals undergo and handle different phases of grief in their own unique ways. Emotions ebb and flow unpredictably. Attempts to numb the pain may provide temporary relief, with good days followed by dreadful ones. There is no set trajectory; nothing unfolds predictably. Nobody possesses a solution to mend it, as grief cannot be repaired but only endured.
Levy’s screenplay adeptly maneuvers through this intricate terrain, skillfully avoiding excessive explanations of Marc’s emotional journey in “Good Grief.” Instead, the film accomplishes something rare and beautiful: it places trust in the audience’s ability to engage attentively.
The narrative exercises restraint in disclosing the intricacies of Marc and Oliver’s marriage—encompassing moments of joy, sorrow, compromise, and conflict—as well as the backstory of the group’s friendship. Eschewing predictable twists, the movie consistently resists opting for the simpler route whenever it appears poised to do so.
The movie is a convincing take on loss and grief and the challenges that come with it. Credit for the film’s success is attributed to the actors: Negga’s vibrant energy, Patel’s heartfelt sincerity, and Levy’s remarkable skill in delivering lines endow these characters with instant recognizability. Their chemistry is palpable, portraying a love that is intricate and nuanced.
In “Good Grief,” the emphasis is not on reaching a resolution. The central theme revolves around persisting in love and discovering new life.