Good people, okay movie, passable Blu-ray
Couple finds money, couple spends money, money turns rotten. So goes Good People, a somewhat droll thriller about the financially challenged Wright family, played with limp passion by James Franco and Kate Hudson. When their drug pumping downstairs tenant dies, the Wright’s snatch the opportunity to seize the misbegotten funds – at least until the true owner finds out.
Good People is never comfortable. Much of the film is draped in London grays, but it’s a side of the city rarely sent to localized film. It’s seedy and running alongside railways with houses all chipping paint. Windows are dirty and plants are dying. Interiors are strewn about and especially lived in.
Kelly Masterson, known recently for story work on Snowpiercer, builds her resume with this low budget crime piece where the police are corrupt and character arcs are led into criss-crossing motivations. Multiple crime families besiege the young couple, employing torture routines and other threats. Only one sympathetic detective offers help, the dry Tom Wilkinson who carries his own baggage into an investigation denied by his superiors.
Good People struggles with content, unable to find material to fill space and thus comes through as unusually slow. Predictable archetypes fill shallow secondary roles, leading up to an awkward third act which becomes outlandishly explicit in a twisted adult recreation of Home Alone, if Macaulay Culkin’s part was played a professional contractor.
Not much is gained from Good People. After it follows some established rhythms, Denmark-born director Henrik Ruben Genz has completed a competent feature but one lacking in audience satisfaction. Franco acts out some weirdly (unintentionally) funny lines and Hudson exists almost entirely to react or be protected from the reality of this increasingly deadly scenario. It’s all simple – too simple – with little to carry it through to a conclusion worth remembering.
Low budget or not, it’s pleasant to see such a feature captured on film stock. Grain structure is evident and wholly pleasing if only because of how unexpected it is. Millennium’s encode work pops in to create a bevy of inconsistent problems, some of them endemic to the studio. Notable smearing can be noticed when in motion, and the overall image feels hung on the tail of some filters. Fidelity feels foggy and not from the cinematography.
Good People is then crushed in post production. Color is pulled out back and murdered, leaving only pale shades of blues, teals, and yellows. Contrast is infrequently noticed. The majority is covered in some type of overcast. Flesh tones never escape the digital tinkering.
With limited contrast, that means black levels are sedated and lacking depth. Rarely do they reach a moment of true black; they mostly languish as deep gray.
Some close-ups show fine detail which is where most of the positives come from. Camera work appreciates the chance to linger on an actor moping about, and it’s not uncommon in Good People. A few exteriors are clean as well, whether of the city or the handful of locations used. Definition can be found on various trees, creating a sense of resolution where there otherwise isn’t much.
Moody quiet is what powers most of Good People as this TrueHD barely has to process much beyond dialog. The score is hardly noted. Any use of the audio space is limited, usually a train passing by in the stereos with adequate separation. A few sound effects slip toward the sides, and loud ambient TV, a plot point early on, can be hard filling the rooms.
Until the finale with a handful of gunshots (and still limited directionality), Good People doesn’t have much to offer sonically, but it is well balanced.
A short “making of” is essentially an extended trailer at under three minutes. If you’re still in the mood for marketing, the actual trailer is offered too.
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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.