Another attempt to make a film like Fleabag did not land well. Since 2019, plenty of female-centric films, be they British or American, have attempted the Fleabag style of narrative. Any female-centric film will have the lead actress breaking the fourth wall, speaking to the camera, and being funny and self-aware. A narrative style that is done and dusted, tried and tested, is becoming an overused narrative style. “The Good House,” directed by Maya Forbes and Wally Wolodarsky and released on the big screens on September 30th, 2022, is about an elderly realtor who is rebuilding her foothold in her town of Wendover, Boston, as the most sought-out realtor. The film is based on the book of the same name by Anne Leary.
What Happens In ‘The Good House’ Film?
The film begins with Hildy describing her life as a realtor who is trying to find her foothold in her town after a stint in rehab affected her business. She is exhausted, struggling mentally and physically to keep up with the increasing prices of things around her. To let the audience, understand her mindset, Hildy speaks through the camera to the audience and tells us the life she led in this perfect seaside town. Her ancestors moved here centuries ago, and she has lived here ever since she was born. A descendent of one of the persecuted Salem witches, Hildy can read minds. In the past, Hildy was a successful realtor when the tragedy of divorce hit her. Her husband left her for another man. Hildy has indulged in alcohol since the divorce, leading her to spiral at many family functions. Hildy never really recovered from this huge setback in her life. It made her want to work harder, but alcohol got the worst of her. Her family, including her assistant, conducts an intervention and forces her to head to rehab to recover from her alcoholism. Even though she wasn’t keen on going to rehab, Hildy realized a lot of important things about recovery she had learned from the rehab facility. Since the stint, her assistant has stolen her clients and established her own business. Now that Hildy is back from rehab, she finds it difficult to find clients because most of them are heading toward her ex-assistant’s business. Hildy is obviously angry and jealous that her assistant just swooped her contacts off her rug and called it her own. Hildy is also helping the Dwight family fix their house to sell because their son is autistic. They are moving to another city so that their child can be admitted to the special school. Hildy gets in touch with her childhood crush, who is a local businessman, and requests help. The hope is that this will give her the traction she requires to take the business forward, and she will be able to spend more time with Frank.
Meanwhile, Hildy indulges in drinking wine after work at night because she claims if she was a severe alcoholic, she would consume it all day. Hildy believes her family is overreacting to her alcohol indulgence. Hildy is guilty of drinking alcohol during her recovery period and makes sure she avoids bringing up the topic of alcohol in the presence of her family. Meanwhile, Peter, the local psychiatrist, decides to sell his house and comes to Hildy to register the listing. He tells her not to let anyone know about the divorce. Hildy is the oldest resident, making Peter trust her with the listing and the divorce proceeding, which will soon begin. Hildy soon learns that Peter and Rebecca are having an affair and are planning to move to California. Rebecca and Hildy become good friends, and Hildy reveals she knows of the affair. Hildy here thinks she needs to keep her conscience before being friends with Rebecca; otherwise, she will lose not just a friend but a potential client.
‘The Good House”: Ending Explained – Does Hildy Head Back To Rehab?
Hildy is invited over to her daughter’s place for Thanksgiving. She reluctantly heads to the function, where she will be surrounded by her son-in-law’s parents and her ex-husband. She detests facing any of them as her ex-husband triggers a lot of memories for her. Her son-in-law’s parents make her feel inadequate as they spend time making photo albums for the grandchildren while making Hildy feel insignificant because she spends most of her time working. Although Hildy babysits her grandkids, somehow, those acts go unappreciated by her daughter. Hildy soon starts binging on Bloody Mary and acts sober till the end of the evening. Hildy refuses to see the effect it is having on her and keeps talking to the camera unaffected. On the way back home, she reminisces about how she had approached Frank on a drunken night. Her memory of Frank being a chivalrous man who did not take advantage of her state still remains fresh in her mind, and that is why Hildy’s mind was never able to forget Frank. He was always her knight in shining armor. Coming out of the memory, Hildy wakes up the next day with a hangover and runs into Frank. He asks her for dinner, and she accepts. Hildy is finally happy to have a pleasant dinner with a man who understands her. Frank knows she isn’t allowed to drink much; he makes sure she remains sober, and to her delight, this gesture makes her want him more. As their night is about to come to an end, Hildy’s daughter shows up. The next day, Hildy’s daughter asks her if she has started drinking again, which Hildy completely denies. Fully aware that her daughters would go ballistic on her, she blames it on Frank. Hildy doesn’t hide the fact that she is now dating Frank and is happy to share the news. Soon, Hildy is made aware of the fact that Peter has gone to her ex-assistant to register his house. Hildy confronts Peter and threatens to reveal the affair; as technology for the code of ethics, he isn’t allowed to date Rebecca, who is also his patient. Peter taps into the family dynamics of Hildy’s family and the history of clinical depression. Hildy is in complete denial about her mother’s condition and eventual suicide; Peter’s use of the word “suicide” triggers a painful memory for Hildy. Hildy sternly believes she does not need any treatment, nor does she want to talk to anyone about her alcoholism and other feelings that are bothering her. Hildy believes she comes from a generation that never spoke about internal pain. Peter might end up losing his job over it, ruining all his plans. Meanwhile, Peter tries to make Rebecca understand the consequences of the affair, but she convinces him to go ahead with the divorce, and so will she, so that they can both live together in California. Rebecca, who is bored out of her mind in her marriage, is looking for an escape. Though she doesn’t understand the consequences of getting involved with the psychiatrist who treated her once, Rebecca truly believes she and Peter can make it work in California. Rebecca is unsure if her husband will let her take away her son. She’s in a real conflict, but somehow, she remains positive about the outcome. Hildy sadly comes across bad news when the Dwight family is unable to find a seat for their son and decides to wait on the sale of the house, due to which Hildy loses her client to her ex-assistant. Hildy was counting on the Dwight sale to help her bring her mojo back, which was clearly missing from her business. A thought that constantly bugs her is how her ex-assistant is doing a lot better than her.
Rebecca one night calls Hildy to help her find Peter, who she can’t track down. Hildy informs her that this is Rebecca’s affair and that she should learn to deal with it and not expect Hildy to help her solve her marital drama. Hildy feels trapped because she doesn’t want to get involved in their affair or become collateral damage if the affair is revealed someday. Hildy tries to be a good friend to Rebecca but realizes she can’t be fighting Rebecca’s fight every time. Soon, through Peter’s listings, Hildy got hold of bigger clients. A success party in honor of her new deal goes haywire when Hildy goes to Frank’s home drunk. Now that a big client is in her kitty, Hildy realizes there won’t be any harm in drinking one glass of alcohol, but soon she spirals with no memory of anything. Frank asks her to sleep at his place or let him drop her off at home. Hildy rebuffs him and walks away. The next morning, a hungover Hildy is surprised to see Frank at her place and her car completely damaged. Frank informs her that Dwight’s son Jake is missing, and there is a possibility that she might have hit him while drunk driving. Wrecked with guilt, anxiety, terror, and horrified by the turn of events, Hildy indulges in alcohol one last time, but in a panic, she breaks her bottle of wine. Unable to make any sense of what is happening around her, Hildy keeps thinking she killed Jake Dwight and cannot believe that it was alcohol intake that was responsible for it. Hildy is approached by a drenched Peter, who talks to her about her mother’s depression and suicide. Hildy is shaken by his appearance and believes whatever he says. Hildy, unable to figure out if she is seeing things or hallucinating, spirals, loses control of her mind, and realizes she needs help and she should not hesitate to ask for it. Soon, Peter disappears as Hildy’s daughter comes to her place and takes her to the rescue mission. Hildy’s confrontation with Peter at her home makes her see things differently. She soon starts to realize the consequences of alcohol overindulgence. In Hildy’s opinion, there had to be a “supposed death” to make herself say stop. Hildy’s daughter confronts her about Hildy’s depression, followed by alcoholism. Hildy is triggered by her daughter’s words and is forced to say things she thought she would never say to her daughters. Hildy is in denial of her condition, which is being pointed out by her family and friends. Hildy is unable to notice that. At that moment, they find a body. Soon, it is revealed that the body they found was of Peter and not of Jake Dwight. Peter commits suicide because he knows Rebecca’s husband will ruin his career, and he cannot abandon Rebecca by moving away to California without her. This forces Peter to take this harsh step. Hildy keeps saying that Peter came by her house to convey that Jake Dwight is fine, but soon realizes what she saw was his hallucinations. Hildy collapses and has a breakdown. Hildy finally acknowledges her flaws, her issues, and her need to fall back on alcohol to avoid talking about her pain. The pain of losing her mother to depression and alcoholism at a young age and losing her husband to another man. That messed with her mind for good. Jake Dwight is found by Rebecca in the woods. Rebecca, by now, is not made aware of Peter’s suicide and brings back Jake Dwight without any issues. Rebecca finally learns to be around Jake and deals with bringing him back safely to his parents. Such tragic turns of events make Hildy decide to take up rehab for good. She makes a decision not just for herself but for her family and Frank, whom she loves. She does not want them to suffer on her behalf, so she takes the reigns under control and decides to live life sober. Frank makes it very clear to her that he will definitely wait for her to come back. Frank wants to be there for her and makes a commitment to look after her through and through. Frank is the catalyst that Hildy requires in her life to let the wheel churn.
The ending of the film should have been more emotional and should have carried some depth, which it surely lacked. The climactic scene felt very rushed and seemed like Hildy’s alcoholism was now becoming serious, which the makers did not project up until the end. The film did not showcase how bad her alcoholism was for the audience to be able to understand the gravity of the situation. Her meeting with Peter and her confrontation with her daughter felt flat and plain, devoid of emotions. The screenplay written by Maya Forbes, Wallace Wolodarsky and Thomas Bezucha is all over the place, and the narrative is shaky. None of the characters have any depth, and above that, Hildy’s character didn’t hit as hard as it should have. The mental health issues in the family were not well explained in the film. The Fleabag style of narrative needs to be done with. In the end, we hardly felt the pain of what had just transpired. The writing needed more punch. Hildy’s stint with alcoholism is not treated as a problem up until the end.
The writing, direction, cinematography, and editing did not carry the pain they were supposed to have. In any film that talks about autism, mental health, depression, and alcoholism, the writing should be strong. The film lacked empathy. Performances by the leads and all the supporting actors were mediocre. I wanted to like Sigourney Weaver and Kevin Kline, but sadly, they hardly had any chemistry. None of the performances stood out. But seriously, people need to get over the Fleabag style of narrative. It is getting repetitive, boring, and, quite frankly, annoying. You can watch “The Good House” if you have a couple of hours to spare and nothing much to do.
“The Good House” is a 2022 drama-comedy film directed by Maya Forbes and Wally Wolodarsky.