GOOD (AND NOT SO GOOD)
Graeme Tuckett, Capital Times, Wednesday 25 February, 2004

For Good is a brave but flawed film that still manages to move and unsettle its audience.

In telling the story of the aftermath of the early parole of convicted child rapist/murderer grant Wilson (Tim Balme) director Stuart McKenzie and co-creator Miranda Harcourt have more than enough material to craft an authentic and admirable study of what happens to a microcosm of society when one of its demons is thrust back into its midst.

This part of For Good is well handled. The characterisation of Wilson and the eventual interaction with his victim's parents (Miranda Harcourt and Tim Gordon) is made powerful by the intensity of the acting and the script's disdain for our preconceptions of how a drama of revenge or redemption might be expected to play out.

Unfortunately, Harcourt and McKenzie have attempted to work into this already near overwhelming story arc a complex sub-plot involving a young journalist student obsessed with Wilson and her (unbelievable) connection to his victim.

The weak drama of the burgeoning relationship between the student (Michelle Langstone) and her flat mate/collaborator (Adam Gardiner) dominates long periods of the film, at the expense of the surely much more involving story of Wilson's ex-partner (Hera Dunleavy), which has either gone largely unwritten or been left on the cutting-room floor.

Later, Langstone's character seems intent on a journey of psychological and sexual self-discovery that we are led to believe has been inspired by her feelings of guilt at not being Wilson's victim herself.

Neither the writing nor the directing of these scenes is worthy of inclusion within a film already struggling to provide enough screen time to its more essential characters and themes.

I was left with the impression of a series of disjointed vignettes – some of them splendidly and powerfully realised, others that seemed ill-conceived and meandering, stitched together by a directorial hand unsure of its own role.

At times we are watching a brutally real and disturbing docu-drama, only to find the next scene (of even the later part of the same scene) belongs in a low-budget meta-physical thriller taking its stylistic cues from Nicholas Roeg and his myriad imitators.

The end result is not the unsettling juxtaposition that I believe the filmmakers had hoped for.

It is rather an uncomfortable (but discomforting) mix of very great ideas and very ordinary ones jostling for attention within a script overburdened with bold intentions.

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