For Good
Bill Gosden, 2003 New Zealand International Film Festival programme

Stuart McKenzie's debut feature For Good is a volatile, claustrophobic psychological thriller that mines New Zealand tabloid mythology to provocative effect. A decade previously, 13 year old Tracey Hill was abducted raped and murdered in a small country town. Now the murderer, Grant Wilson (a disturbingly recognisable Tim Balme) is up for parole and the case is in the news again. The victim's father has vowed to take the law into his own hands if the killer is released. Lisa, the film's protagonist (newcomer Michelle Langstone) was born on the same day as Tracey and knew her slightly. At the age of 23 she can see that Tracey's hideous death had a major impact on her own development. She wants to understand what happened. Posing as a journalist she visits Wilson and then talks to Tracey's parents. She is stirred and drawn into the tormented worlds of both. But neither they nor the world at large will allow her the luxury of ambivalence. For Good dares to promote the very ambivalence that Lisa is denied: the grieving father and the killer, apparently so diametrically opposed, share certain human needs and compulsions that need to be tended very carefully. McKenzie's script draws on material he and Miranda Harcourt developed in Harcourt's solo theatre piece Portraits, which itself drew on their interviews with rapists, murderers and victims' families. They are deeply familiar with their material and the film throws out enough ideas about the way society generates, contains and exhibits its demons to keep audiences arguing for hours.

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