Friday, June 17, 2022

The Good Neighbor: Movie Review

A slow moving thriller with a great setting.
The Good Neighbor is an indie thriller set in Latvia. The characters included a couple of Americans and Brits, but they’re not just vacationing in Riga. The foreign angle is handled well since they’re all here long-term and they’re not treated as foreigners. David (Luke Kleintank) is an American journalist looking to uproot his life after a painful break-up; Grant (Bruce Davison) is a former colleague working for a European news centre and can hook David up with a job.   2021

Directed by: Stephan Rick

Screenplay by: Ross Partridge
Silja Clemens, Stephan Rick

Starring: Luke Kleintank, Jonathan Rhys Meyers

Robert (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is half-Latvian, half-British, living in Latvia for most of his life but still has his strong British accent. The perfect neighbor for the newly-arrived David, somebody who can help him with the language since David’s Latvian is very weak, and somebody who can help show him around.

The beginning of the film is good. Primarily because the cinematography is fantastic, and I love movies that can show me less-familiar countries in a really positive light. Which is also a bit of an impressive feat for a thriller about murder: it maintains a consistent tone with a hint of eeriness and creepiness while still capturing the natural beauty of Latvia.

Robert and David’s burgeoning friendship ends in disaster after a night out at the club and a bit too much to drink results in accidentally killing a girl on the drive home. David is grief-stricken, but Robert immediately jumps into cover-up mode – a little too effectively one thinks. Numerous obstacles present themselves: David was driving Grant’s car (and there’s evidence all over the car), David’s job is reporting on crimes and police activity (and guess which hit-and-run he gets assigned to?), and then the victim’s sister Vanessa shows up at David’s work hoping he can help track down leads.

All the different directions that story takes are interesting, the issue is that they all move too slowly and don’t build into anything more substantial. A lot of the outcomes are fairly obvious given how quickly Robert becomes unhinged and David starts running out of lies. Even though most viewers will figure out the ending before it gets resolved, the few intricacies with Robert’s character is handled well and makes it worth wading through to the end. Because it bears repeating, the cinematography is exceptionally good and such a great setting. Even if you have seen this type of movie before, you haven’t seen it set in Latvia before, and that really does make a difference.