Saturday, 13 February 2021

REVIEW: Good Grief, starring Sian Clifford and Nikesh Patel

At a time when theatres have been closed for so many months and the daily news is full of the deaths of thousands from Covid and every one of us knows someone affected by these events, it may seem challenging to spend an hour in front of a laptop watching a film about the grief one feels when facing the death of a loved one. Yet this simply shot film Good Grief is beautifully made, emotionally engaging and helps one understand the five stages of grief. 

The process of dealing with grief is helped by understanding the natural reactions we face as humans when we experience it. The five stages begin with Denial and spread into Anger and are easy to understand. The third stage is Bargaining where the grieving person clings to threads of hope and feels willing to do anything to alleviate the pain before becoming depressed about the situation and their reactions. Only after these four stages do we pass on to acceptance and can then start to return to a normal life. The time in each phase and the boundaries between them are blurred. Indeed, as we continue in the third lockdown it is easy to see parallels in our own coping mechanisms to the forced restrictions compounded by the grief of losing loved ones.

Lorien Hayes has created a delightfully honest and moving story of a man Adam, played by Nikesh Patel, struggling to cope with the death of his partner Liv who has just died after a seven-year battle with cancer. At the wake party in February, we meet him with Liv’s best friend Kat, played by Sian Clifford sharing memories and expecting Liv to walk back in at any moment (Denial). We then follow their relationship as they both navigate the grief they feel over the following months until October when they are able to accept her passing. The relationship between them is touchingly played as they come to terms with their grief and loneliness and at times is funny, powerful, and heart-breaking.

The film is shot in a simple set single white room where a few props are used to set the scene (mainly cardboard boxes) while plain white graphics over the black and white images of the crew changing the scene are used to tell us the month and location. February his flat, March Brent Cross carpark, April his kitchen, May a hotel Bedroom, October the “sad” room of his flat. The camera is close up in this limited space, almost intruding on their grief and even appears in a reflection occasionally keeping this a theatrical piece. But Director Natalie Abrahami and cinematographer Emma Dalesman do an excellent job with the sardonic humour, tear-jerking letter reading and intimacy between the characters, so we sense not only their feelings but also the presence of the deceased in their minds. We don’t meet the other close friends who are at the wake or on the phone or live next door, but they are never far away, and this adds to the pressure and difficulties of dealing with their feelings.

This film is a perfect product of our times. Confined to a single space. Restricted in who we see. Struggling to cope with loss. Reliant on someone close to get us through but inevitably experiencing tension in that relationship. If you are feeling this way then perhaps this film will help you move on to accept the situation and plan for the future in which case it will be an hour well spent.

Review by Nick Wayne

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: Online until 15th April | Price of Ticket: £15

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