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The Good Girl

I recently watched a DVD of THE GOOD GIRL, a 2002 movie that parodies the old "brooding/bad boy" romances.

Anniston plays Justine Last, a 30-year-old woman in a not-so-happy marriage to Phil Last, who is a house painter when he isn't getting stoned, and who is devoted to her in his own goofy way but is neither attractive (he is played by John C. Reilly after all), nor especially bright.

Justine Last works at a place called "Retail Rodeo." It's a Walmart-type place with a cowboyish theme, simply because the movie is set in west Texas, in the middle of the "nowhere" which is so abundant there. Her job involves applying make-up to the faces of women shoppers by way of making them see their need for the cosmetics products available. In the course of the plot she gets a promotion to head of the cosmetics department, so she gets to supervise another woman who is actually applying the make-up to the shoppers in the later scenes.

The brooding-bad-boy type for whom she halls is played by Jake Gyllenhaal. His character is properly named Tom Worther, but he calls himself "Holden," after you-know-perfectly-well who.

Worther fancies himself a writer. When not at work or hooking up with Justine he's apparently writing different versions of the same story about a about moody non-conformist with various names who kills himself in the end. Shockingly, these stories don't sell. Thus, he lives with his parents and clerks at Retail Rodeo. It is a mark of the depth of Justine's own depression that she finds this fellow simpatico.

The viewer is not really allowed to find Worther at all sympathetic. Pathetic, yes. Sympathetic, no.
The viewer is supposed to feel some sympathy for Justine, and we are privy to her thoughts via occasional voice-overs. She sees herself as trapped in an excruciatingly boring and pointless life.
I think the movie over-all works, so I've left a lot of developments unspoiled here and I recommend it.
Reilly excels as an actor (he always does, and in this movie he is doing the "Cellophane Man" from Chicago in a very different time and place).
Aniston also excels here.
I can't say the same for Gyllenhaal, but he does what is required of him.


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