We’re here to talk about The Good Mother, the third film, directed by Miles Joris-Peyrafitt, which was released courtesy of Vertical Entertainment on September 1st, 2023. I haven’t seen either of Miles Joris-Peyrafitt’s previous films, including his debut As You Are from 2016, and Dreamland from 2019, which featured Margot Robbie.
The Good Mother is a film about a journalist who, following her son’s murder, teams up with his recently pregnant girlfriend in an unusual way to find the people who killed him. Together, they take on a corrupt and drug-filled world. The plot of the film sounds a lot bigger than it ended up being.
The mother is played by Hilary Swank, the pregnant girlfriend is played by Olivia Cooke, and the son, who’s a cop, is Jack Rayner.
OK, so the story is that Hilary Swank has two sons, the cop Jack Rayner and another son who we never meet and she finds out he’s been killed or found dead. At his funeral, the pregnant girlfriend shows up and they have an altercation, which we can get to.
But of course, they start talking, she’s pregnant and saying that, you know, maybe she can help figure out who did this. So we spend like 30 minutes with them trying to get the lead. And those leads point them in the direction of someone named Ducky, played by Hopper Penn.
So early on in the film, we see that some bad guys have come to the pregnant lady’s house to get back the drugs, and she’s able to escape just in the nick of time. But she jumps out of the second story and like just jumps off the roof.
I think it’s so funny, depending on the kind of movie you’re watching, a fall like that would have incapacitated someone. And then in this movie, this pregnant lady jumps from that height and she pops right up and not only starts running but hops over a fence. She had a hearty womb because she fell all the way down those stairs at the end, and that baby still made it out.
So they got a lead because I thought something that looked well, seemed appropriate. The pregnant lady posted on Facebook, “If anyone has information on my like dead baby Daddy let me know”. She gets all these messages and she does get a lead and they end up going to the neighbor’s house and the neighbor says I saw this white truck. They put two and two together and figured out it was Ducky.
Then we see Hillary at like a fentanyl testing site. Or where people can go and exchange syringes and test their drugs to make sure they’re not laced with fentanyl, harm reduction sites. And Hillary sees Ducky, so then she chases him.
The Fate Of The Girlfriend
So when the pregnant girlfriend goes to confront Ducky, he’s been killed. So sort of the climax of the story is the pregnant girlfriend runs to the cop brother Jack Rayner to tell him, like, “Oh, my God, I just went to go see Ducky someone killed him”. But while she was there, she took his phone and we saw on his phone that he had contacted this mysterious number more than once.
So the cop’s brother Jack, he’s like “OK, well, let me figure out what to do. I’m going to make a few phone calls and we’ll have someone go pick up the body”. And while he’s doing all that and she’s alone in the living room, she calls that mystery number on Ducky’s phone and guess where that number leads to a phone that’s in the cop’s house. So then we think OK, well he had something to do with all of it.
The girlfriend goes downstairs to find the phone and the cop sees her. They have a confrontation and he, I guess you could say, accidentally kills her. He has to figure out what to do, so he decides to set up a situation where it looks like she ODed in the bathroom. Because she used to be a drug addict, but she’s sober now.
As he’s setting up the scene he injects her with a bunch of drugs and then the cop’s wife shows up, played by Dilone. So of course she calls 911, so there’s enough time to get her to the hospital. She dies, but the baby in her belly is able to be saved.
So we flash forward and we see that now the cop’s wife is pregnant too, she has a child. And Hilary Swank is raising Paige’s child.
Hillary and the wife meet after time has passed. And the wife is like, “I have to tell you something. I was in the basement and I found that dead lady’s necklace and there was blood by it and I’ve tried to do the math every which way and I just don’t know how to explain it except that obviously my husband was involved in her death like she did not die from a drug overdose”.
Hillary Swing a journalist, decides that she’s going to follow her son and she discovers that he is interacting with a drug dealer there is this suitcase filled with drugs that we see the cop exchange with someone.
So now she knows and she confronts her son. He says that his brother was murdered because he wouldn’t return these drugs and or sell them because he knew what was in them, they’re a combination of coke, heroin, and fentanyl, so it’s very deadly and it’s called Mother’s Milk, which was the original title of this film.
The drugs mentioned are called mother’s milk, which is a combination of three things, and what the son had was $50,000 worth of it, which is like a brick.
OK, so the Mom, Hillary decides since she’s a journalist she’s gonna write an article called “Mother’s Milk Brothers Blood.” Of course, it’s implied that that’s going to tear the family down because maybe he’ll be in trouble and the the end.
I was disappointed because there are so many interesting things in the movie that we really don’t spend much time on. We spend a lot of time with Hilary Swank just looking dour and moping around. And I didn’t really care about her as much.
Hilary has two sons, one of whom is a drug addict, and he’s causing all this discord in the family. I thought it would have been fun to as the audience may think the brother was involved in the death of his brother to ease the pain within the family, I think that would have been really interesting.
Then, of course, the death of the pregnant girlfriend, which happens very fast. That’s a little past the midway point where Olivia Cook dies. And I think the strongest part of the film is really the relationship between the two women. To me, that’s the most interesting part, although I do feel like we focus too much on Hillary Swank. I think Olivia Cook’s character is kind of more interesting.
But I think it almost feels like the film didn’t know which direction it needed to go and it kind of got split down the middle between this sort of drama about this mother and this pregnant lady and their relationship or sort of procedural of who killed this guy and all the inner workings. So it just feels diluted on both sides.
Also, I don’t know how this read originally as a script. I mean I do think Mother’s Milk is a more interesting title than The Good Mother. Because of that then it feels like it’s in a long succession of similar titles like The Good Nurse, The Good Son, The Good Wife, and The Good Doctor. Like those are all movie titles and I don’t know why we needed The Good Mother.
There’s also something that isn’t gritty enough. It does kind of similar things that another gritty movie does, but it just feels kind of like it flatlines.
Not Gitty Enough
There’s a movie with a young lady, Shailene Woodley, and her boss is that gay guy and there’s a serial killer. That movie was Directed by Damien Shafron called To Catch a Killer. It has also been renamed and had a very generic title. I liked that film better, I thought it had more tension, and then we also had this central character who I thought was pretty well developed.
I think the pregnant lady in The Good Mother was more interesting. But we’re splitting time between her and Hillary Swank. I think Hillary swings fine, but I don’t think she was doing anything.
I do appreciate that she allows herself to look regular even. I think she looks fantastic for her age, but she’s made a career playing kind of blue-collar type workers who are a bit downtrodden.
Again, I don’t know, I think in written form this reads one way, but the casting of Jack Rayner made me feel like this is fairly predictable. Because once you get a couple of scenes with this notable person and nothing’s going on, I’m like “Oh, he had something to do with his brother’s death.”
When we’re at the funeral and the pregnant girlfriend shows up, Hillary walks up to her and slaps the shit out of her, I thought that was funny.
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