Goodbye Lover

| April 27, 2016

When Ben (Don Johnson; Eastbound & Down) decides to call off his affair with Sandra (Patricia Arquette; Boyhood), who is the wife of his brother Jake (Dermot Mulroney; Shameless), and pursue a normal relationship with Peggy (Mary-Louise Parker; Weeds), the four enter into a love rectangle that is tainted with lust, murder, and money.

That was a concisely as I could sum up the plot, but honestly it’s way too complicated and convoluted to make sense.  People are constantly playing each other and betraying each other, seemingly for a broader plan, but no one could predict how everyone in the movie is going to act so it’s difficult to believe that anyone who comes out on top didn’t do so through blind chance.  The fact that anyone manages to even make it out of this movie alive is completely unbelievable, but the idea that any of these people could orchestrate such an elaborate plot is laughable.  It reminds me of John Frankenheimer’s Reindeer Games about a convict orchestrating an extremely elaborate ruse to make his cellmate commit a robbery instead of him.  It’s bonkers, but fun, and so is this mostly.

Once the movie gets going and things start to unfold, twist, and turn, I was really starting to enjoy it.  I really like most of the cast (excluding Arquette, whose popularity baffles me).  Don Johnson is suave and cool, Mulroney is great, and Parker masterfully walks that line between sweet and innocent and super sexy.  Probably the biggest surprise here is Ellen Degeneres (Finding Nemo), who plays the detective investigating the four leads’ plot to best the others and collect millions of dollars.  Degeneres’ role is funny of course, but surprisingly tough and refreshingly intelligent in a movie full of people stumbling their way through murders and insurance scams.

Honestly, the film’s fun story and good acting was almost enough to get me through the movie and come out the other side as a fan.  I even really liked Arquette’s character’s obsession with The Sound of Music, often singing the showtunes throughout the film.  But honestly, any good will the movie built with me was completely ruined by the epilogue, right down to the final moments of the film where Degeneres’ partner on the police force breaks the fourth wall and jokingly quips with the audience.  It’s absolutely insane and a complete violation of the rules of the movie.  And for that, it falls short.

Available now on DVD from 20th Century Fox.

About the Author:

Joe Sanders Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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