The little paragraph that tries to capture a film in a film festival brochure is a fascinating thing: trying to stand out amongst scores more paragraphs all trying to get you to part with your money and see their film. If you are a small Irish film I would imagine it is even more difficult when you are up against some stellar sounding international fare. I had read about The Good Man in the JDIFF brochure and was intrigued. One quick look on the internet and I picked it out as one of my films to see. Its central idea of how two different stories seemingly unconnected, thousands of miles apart, could be brought together successfully, intrigued me.
I am sad to say that The Good Man does not succeed in its goals. The juxtaposition of a successful business man in Belfast (Aidan Gillen) and a student living in the townships of Cape Town is very interesting. The stark contrasts of these two disparate lives are not overplayed and there is thankfully none of the generic wailing song that accompanies many Hollywood depictions of poor people in Africa. But sadly the film, for the most part, has a script that barely rises above cliché. The direction by Phil Harrison is flat despite the use of some stunning locations. At a short 74 minutes, it really feels like a slightly padded hour long episode of television.
The cast do their best but aside from Gillen and Thabang Sidloyi (who is excellent) as the student Sifiso there is very little else. Kelly Campbell plays Gillen’s wife but it is a part that is barely there. This is all a real pity as the film has an ace up its sleeve that is revealed far too late. There is a scene right at the end that intercuts the two stories in a fascinating and surprising way. But at this stage I had given up on the film and its characters. This may be worth a watch at home on TV but it doesn’t do enough to warrant a trip to the cinema.