Good Neighbors (2010)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fantasized about murdering my neighbors. Seriously, I can’t tell you because then if I do it, I’ll get caught. I mean, what?

If you’ve never lived in an apartment as an adult (college doesn’t count) you likely haven’t experienced the full joys of trying to get to bed at a reasonable hour while sharing a wall with someone who keeps precisely the opposite schedule as you. You may have missed out on the pleasure of paper-thin floors prompting your downstairs neighbor to climb up on his couch and bang on the ceiling whenever your ordinary footsteps become just too much for him to bear. And you’ve probably never had the pleasure of pressing yourself against a wall to shimmy past an old mattress in the hallway, thinking, “Bedbugs!” I hate other people. I want to live on the moon.

But maybe I should relocate to the picturesque Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighborhood in Montreal. It sports a hip, young demographic and beautiful pre-war architecture, and it’s the birthplace of William Shatner! Also it’s a medical fact that Canadians are 27% less irritating than Americans.

Oh don't mind me, just building shit outside your door while you sleep. WHAT ARE NEIGHBORS FOR?

The story: In the fall of 1995, gangly school teacher Victor returns to Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, or NDG as the locals call it, where he was raised. Interestingly, actor Jay Baruchel was actually born in NDG himself. True fucking story! I told you Canada was magical.

Unaware that a serial killer has been raping and murdering local women, he moves into an apartment building and quickly gets to know two of his fellow tenants: cat lover Louise and wheelchair-bound alpha male Spencer (Scott Speedman, damn your pretty eyes). They have dinner together on referendum night, i.e. the day Quebec’s residents voted on whether their territory would secede from the rest of Canada. Apparently they try it like once every 20 years. As in past attempts, the vote fails by an exceedingly narrow margin. By the end of the evening, Louise and Spencer’s patience for Victor’s overwhelming positivity grows equally thin.

So does that chair make me the fifth wheel? Seventh?

Over the course of the winter Victor forcibly injects himself into their lives, while outside the building’s walls the killer remains at large. Inside the building, it seems everyone has a secret dark side just waiting for the right time to surface.

Biggest letdown: It’s not a letdown but this is not the movie you think it is. It begins just as I was expecting, with a sense of being trapped in a closed system while unseen horror waits around every turn. When the killer strikes one of Louise’s co-workers, the terror ceases to be abstract. I love stories like that, where a small group of ordinary people are at the heart of a mystery yet, from a practical standpoint, insulated from its danger. Then somewhere in the middle, much earlier than I would have expected, things take a turn and the movie becomes something else entirely.

Fuck, when will we get the internet?

I’ve never read the novel this movie is based on because it’s written in French and I can barely read in English. I’m assuming the story plays out pretty much the same way, in which case I can’t give credit or criticism for the interesting if counterproductive twists each character takes. What I will say is that this movie is billed as a dark comedy and/or a psychological thriller. There are certainly flashes of morbid humor and one or two moments that might make you gasp, but I don’t know that either genre applies. Because the movie never really decides what it wants to be, right up to and including the ending, anyone who watches is likely to feel misled by the Hitchcockian marketing and trailers.

Why you should watch: Despite not being particularly thrilling, I did enjoy the psychology aspect, probably because it was rudimentary enough to not go sailing over my head. All three of the main characters are presented as fairly normal, if quirky, individuals. But as we get to know them better and see into their private lives, we learn that each is, either by choice or by nature, divorced from reality. It’s as if they and, by implication we, are fundamentally incompatible with our fellow man. I get that feeling every time I get in the elevator.

Sweetie, that wouldn't do it for me even if I wasn't paralyzed.

Memorable Moment: To all the men in the room: if, after sex, a woman carefully peels the condom off your wang and says, “I’ll just take care of this,” DON’T LET HER LEAVE THE ROOM. Best case here is she’s using your man juice to make a sneaky blackmail baby. Worst case, she’s gonna plant your DNA at a crime scene.

Choice quote: “God, this is so disgusting. I don’t know how people do this.”

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3 Responses to “Good Neighbors (2010)”

  1. […] Good Neighbors – Not really. […]

  2. i hope my neighbors don’t see this … they might get some ideas =/

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