The Good Girl

The Good Girl (2002) movie poster

(2002) dir. Miguel Arteta
viewed: 01/19/03

The Good Girl is a moderately weak comic drama featuring actress Jennifer Anniston as something supposedly “other” than “Jennifer Anniston,” something more of a “character.” So, in this film Anniston plays Justine, who, from her vague drawl and working class universe, is meant to represent something quite different from the characters that Anniston is more commonly known for portraying.

The film is set largely in the world of a discount store, and all of the characters seem to emanate from a lower tier of small town suburbia, located right next to the trailer park. The film’s depiction of place seemed condescending and the characters all reeked of stereotypes, the loveable but none-too-bright underclass. The film’s narrative became a little darker than I expected, and I think that the viewer was meant to connect more with Anniston’s character than I did. As a result, I didn’t know how to read the film too clearly.

In voiceover, Anniston’s character, Justine, narrates the events of the film, and though the viewer is meant to sympathize with her to some degree, director Miguel Arteta seems to keep some distance from her too, enough to allow the audience to laugh “at her” rather than purely to sympathize “with her.” I would say that the film has an almost schizophrenic approach to its main characters. I never got a clean read on Justine or Holden (Jake Gyllenhaal), whether they were sympathetic or just plain “dumb.” And when Justine’s actions late in the film seem to turn sinister, I really felt confused.

The film has some pretty funny parts to it, but I didn’t really think that as a whole it was very good movie. And clearly, I didn’t seem to understand some of its intended significance.

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