Hilary Swank lacks enjoyable cinematic instincts in The Good Mother

Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Hilary Swank, a two-time Academy Award winner, stars in The Good Mother, directed by Miles Joris-Peyrafitte and produced by Vertical. Joris-Peyrafitte pens the film’s screenplay with Madison Harrison.


After the murder of her estranged son, journalist Marissa Bennings (Swank) forms an unlikely alliance with his pregnant girlfriend Paige (Oliva Cooke) to track down the killers. Together, they confront a world of corruption and drugs in the seedy underbelly of a small city in upstate New York. They unearth an even darker secret as they get closer to the truth.


Every so often, I’ll read a description of a movie I’m reviewing and expect it to take another route. In the case of The Good Mother, I thought the film would feature Swank and Cooke unleashing some vigilante-style justice. Regretfully, that’s not the case here. The Good Mother is one of the films that screams paycheck performance from its two female leads.


Swank is on auto-pilot for the film’s duration. The Oscar winner fails to emote anything but disgruntled, and her character is fathomly unlikable. On the one hand, that could be the angle the director was aiming for with Swank’s character. From the moment she takes the screen, it’s clear that she has vices affecting her work, but Swank never gets to delve deep into the material.


Cooke fares even worse outside of taking a punch to the face early on from Swank and spends the entire movie looking confused. I get it her character is a druggie and pregnant, but it’s almost as if Cooke is in another film. The Good Mother only runs ninety minutes, and at around the forty-minute mark, I forgot her character was even in the movie.


The male actors in the film aren’t much better. As Marissa’s editor, acclaimed theater actor Norm Lewis has two decent scenes in the movie, but our male lead is terrible. Jack Reynor portrays a colleague of Marissa. In 2014’s Transformers: Age Of Extinction, the actor initially caught my attention. While I never expected Reynor to rise to the heights of a Daniel Day-Lewis or Cary Grant, he did have a natural screen presence that would elevate in romantic comedies and action movies.


Additionally, Renyor showed range in Detriot and Midsommar. However, like Swank, the film gives him nothing to work. Frankly, he has one of the worst arcs in the movie, and a third arc twist involving his character is way out of left field.  


All of the recognizable names in the cast have turned in better work in the past, and while The Good Mother is a stinker, it’s not a career-ender by any means. As for director Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, his previous two efforts were both coming-of-age films, which may be his niche and where he can excel. However, his attempt to tackle serious drama doesn’t work, earning a slot in my year’s worst.


Final Grade : D-


The Good Mother is in theaters today.

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Hilary Swank lacks enjoyable cinematic instincts in The Good Mother

Hilary Swank lacks enjoyable cinematic instincts in The Good Mother