Review of “Good Sorrow” | Daniel Levy’s bittersweet film is a promising showcase of talent despite its flaws

LONDON, UK: Daniel Levy, famous for his role in the beloved TV comedy “Schitt’s Creek,” ventures into the world of feature films with his debut film, “Good Grief,” released Friday (Jan. 5) on Netflix .

This bittersweet comedy-drama unfolds as Levy takes on the roles of writer, director, producer and star. The story revolves around Marc, an artist struggling with the intrigues of grief following the untimely death of his husband, Oliver.

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Unlike the comedic tone of “Schitt’s Creek,” “Good Grief” explores the deep emotional terrain of love and loss. Levy, in the lead role of Marc, weaves a story inspired by his personal experiences, giving the film an authentic and heartfelt quality.

Daniel Levy’s character strikes a delicate balance between vulnerability and strength

A still from “Good Grief” (Netflix)
A still from “Good Grief” (Netflix)

The story follows Marc as he navigates the aftermath of the sudden death of his grief-stricken husband Oliver. To add layers of complexity, a revelation about Oliver’s infidelity a year after his death propels Marc on a soul-searching journey to Paris alongside his best friends, Sophie (Ruth Negga) and Thomas (Himesh Patel). Together, they embark on a quest to resolve the unspoken issues in their friendship, providing a backdrop for the exploration of adult relationships and unresolved grief.

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Levy’s portrayal of Marc strikes a delicate balance between vulnerability and strength, delivering a nuanced performance that captures the intricacies of grief and self-discovery. The supporting cast, particularly the stellar performances of Ruth Negga and Himesh Patel, play a pivotal role in mirroring Marc’s flaws and aiding him in his transformation journey.

A still from “Good Grief” (Netflix)
A still from “Good Grief” (Netflix)

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Patel’s Thomas brings a cautious, deadpan demeanor, complemented by Negga’s Sophie, who injects chaos and recklessness into the mix. Together, they form a makeshift family navigating the complexities of life. Although the film has several strengths, it struggles with certain challenges that disrupt its smooth narrative flow.

While Levy succeeds in creating authentic characters reminiscent of “Schitt’s Creek,” there are times where the interactions feel forced, as if to advance the plot or character arcs. This occasional imbalance diminishes the authenticity of the connections between characters, sometimes disrupting the immersive experience.

A still from “Good Grief” (Netflix)
A still from “Good Grief” (Netflix)

“Good Grief” attempts to blend different genres, primarily in the form of an emotional drama focused on adult friendships and unresolved grief. However, the inclusion of romantic comedy elements, such as dark secrets and vacation adventures, sometimes feels manufactured rather than organic. Despite this, Levy skillfully avoids clichés like a last-minute run to the airport, thereby retaining an element of unpredictability.

“Good Grief” allows viewers to enjoy more authentic moments amid emotional turmoil

A still from “Good Grief” (Netflix)
A still from “Good Grief” (Netflix)

The film’s mix of seriousness and occasional artificiality is exemplified in Marc’s poignant description of grief as “swimming with clothes on and can’t take them off.” While these lines resonate, they coexist with romantic comedy dialogue that strays from real human interaction. The film grapples with intense seriousness, sometimes leaving viewers yearning for more authentic moments amid the emotional turmoil.

Notable appearances by David Bradley as Duncan, Oliver’s father, add depth to the narrative, with Bradley giving the film’s most heartbreaking speech at the funeral. Kaitlyn Dever and Emma Corrin make memorable appearances as an obnoxious Hollywood star and performance artist, respectively, contributing to the film’s eclectic ensemble.

In its depiction of Marc’s grief, the film sometimes descends into melancholy, with moments that are overly indulgent. However, Levy’s commitment to emotional authenticity shines through in these moments. The film’s sincerity is further underscored by Levy’s own experiences, reflected in its nuanced depiction of grief and its intersection with betrayal.

“Good Grief” may not be a perfect debut, but it’s a promising showcase of Daniel Levy’s multifaceted talents. The film’s imperfections are overshadowed by its genuine moments, compelling performances, and the potential it holds for Levy’s cinematic future.

As his first feature film, “Good Grief” leaves audiences with a sense of anticipation, eager to witness Levy’s storytelling prowess evolve on the big screen.

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