Saturday, June 12, 2021

Back for Good: Movie Review

Solid addition to the quarter-life crisis genre.
In Back for Good, Max (Molly Donovan) is a 20-something struggling actress in New York City. Her agent committed suicide, she works as a waitress serving assholes, and her roommate just kicked her out. One phone call from an ex-boyfriend and Max decides on the spot to move back home to Pittsburgh. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before, but it is a solid addition to the quarter-life crisis genre.   2017 (2021 release)

Directed by: Bailey Donovan, Molly Donovan

Screenplay by: Bailey Donovan, Molly Donovan

Starring: Molly Donovan, Ian Cramer

I liked how quickly Max decided to change her life. She cleaned up her apartment, threw out some stuff and strapped the rest of it to her back in one night and then caught a bus to Pittsburgh the next day. Some of us are a little more settled in life and can’t uproot that quickly, but it’s a really effective introduction to Max, somebody who lived in NYC for years, but was clearly so unhappy and feeling like she didn’t belong that she was able to move on in a matter of hours.

Her first few days back in Pittsburgh consist of telling her dad that she's back for good, being pissed off at her sister who’s an actress for a local theatre company, meeting her ex-boyfriend’s new fiancée, and getting into a bar fight. I liked the bar fight, disliked her dad’s response to it (laughing at her referring to a stranger as a bitch and punching her in the face, most parents aren’t going to encourage that behaviour), and I liked her initial awkwardness around the ex Jesse (Ian Cramer) and his new fiancée Jackie (Maggie Carr).

One of the main themes is reconciling your dislike for your hometown and then deciding that you’re not better than it when you couldn't hack it in the big city. Based on having never been to Pittsburgh, I would have thought that it was a large enough city that public transportation wouldn’t be an issue, and there are opportunities that aren’t just dead-end jobs. However, I will defer to the filmmakers, from Pittsburgh and based this on their real-life experiences, who highlight the industrial, gritty, and working-class nature of the city.

Max felt she didn’t belong and now she’s back in the town she insulted and friends who she thought she was better than and left behind for New York. I have issues with Jesse, who so easily decides he’ll leave his fiancée for Max. Max’s impulsiveness is once again on display when she’s willing to destroy a relationship to use Jesse and let him belittle her. There’s no way that’s a healthy relationship at all – that’s at least partially the point, but it’s also Jesse who ends up convincing Max of her future and I disagree with Jesse in that role since at no point previously does he appear capable of a self-less thought.

It’s a darkly lit film, a natural side-effect of limited budgets and indie production but also easy enough to overlook. I appreciate the really quick run-time with no superfluous scenes. It’s a light-weight film that retreads common ground, but Back for Good is well-produced, well acted and very relatable. For fans of the genre, it’s a plus.