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Movie review: 'Good Neighbors'

A tense thriller whose impressively-edited third-act double cross confirms the solid handle that writer-director Jacob Tierney has on his intriguing material.

July 29, 2011|By Gary Goldstein

Quirky, creepy and increasingly involving, the Montreal-set thriller "Good Neighbors" throws a trio of offbeat apartment dwellers together under one shaky roof as a serial killer wreaks havoc around town. It doesn't take long to suspect one of these three young singles may be the elusive criminal — the murderer is unwittingly if inconclusively described early on — but that doesn't detract from the enjoyment of watching the twisty pieces of this often perverse puzzle pile up.

Writer-director Jacob Tierney adapted the film, which is more of a "who's-doing-what?" than a conventional whodunit, from the 1982 novel by Chrystine Brouillet, resetting the action to around the time of 1995's referendum vote on Quebec's sovereignty. The noirish story finds sexy, wheelchair-using widower Spencer (Scott Speedman) and his eccentric, cat-loving neighbor Louise (Emily Hampshire) reluctantly befriending new resident Victor (Jay Baruchel), a somewhat clueless schoolteacher who soon falls for Louise.

The threesome's various permutations and secrets form the core of the mystery here, but it's another renter, Valérie (Anne-Marie Cadieux), whose hateful actions really send things spiraling off in some startling — and hauntingly icky — directions.

Ultimately, though, the movie's impressively edited, third-act double cross confirms the solid handle that Tierney (who previously directed Baruchel and Hampshire in "The Trotsky") has on his intriguing material.


"Good Neighbors." MPAA rating: R for some strong violence, sexual content, graphic nudity and language. Running time: 1 hour, 39 minutes. At Laemmle's Sunset 5, West Hollywood.

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