The racial politics of The Intouchables are undoubtedly problematic, even if the film is well meaning. Meanwhile, the success of The Intouchables in undeniable. It’s a bona-fide IMDB top 250 candidate. It grossed over $400 million worldwide, and it spawned an English language remake with Kevin Hart. As with most films of this nature (see: The Green Book, The Help), it’s tough to reconcile these two things.
One way may be to remove the well-meaning white characters from the equation altogether; and although, I doubt that this is the intention for Justin Ethbridge’s Good, it’s parallels to The Intouchables make it hard to unsee. There’s not a single white character in Good, which ultimately serves to be a boon for the film. As a result, the film’s young caregiver at its heart—here named Payton (the director themselves), is asked to care for an elder Black man (Keith David as Gregory) as opposed to a white one. In essence, this allows the film’s thematic bent towards considering the ways in which men respond to feeling scared about loss and their relationships with those they love to feel more poignant.
Unfortunately, what the film has in interesting content, it lacks in production value. I despise reviewing films that feel like there is a disconnect between the intent and the production value. That’s because I often feel that I’m being cruel. After all, I had never heard of Justin Ethbridge until I sat down to watch this film, which means I know nothing about its production. So while it’s technically my job to do so, it does feel a little bit like I’m searching in the dark for an answer I can never have.
For example, I spent not a second on the set of Good, meaning I have no idea if the tepid score—which I can only describe as something akin to the mother of all nondescript garage band loops—is something that the filmmakers sincerely felt worked for them, or if it was the only option available due to the constraints of the film’s budget. If it’s the former, it’s more of a red flag than the latter.
Not that it matters either way, because ultimately the effect is dire upon the film’s sound design. For a film that already lacks technical legitimacy, it’s an ineffectual effect. Also detrimental is the film’s acting. Keith David is great, but Ethbridge and the rest of the cast are not particularly so. Again, Good’s main issue is that it feels no-budget in a way that is not helpful for the film. Because the film is so stripped down, there’s nothing to elevate the film about its technical deficiencies.
Yet, to come full circle, Good manages to hold itself together because the film takes its premise and attaches it to well-written characters. Ethbridge’s one, noticeable skill is in the writing room. The film is well-written, and feels meaningful. But it’s also a film which clearly is missing something aesthetically. Good might be good, but it’s also far from great.