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Goodbye lover

Threat advisory: Elevated - Significant risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

No-one's ever been so good at being so bad.

This is a twisting, turning, "What's gonna happen next?" dark comedy about a detective (Ellen Degeneres as Sergeant Rita Pompano) investigating a murder. At the heart of the case are Sandra Dunmore (Patricia Arquette), her husband Jake (Dermot Mulroney), his brother and business partner Ben (Don Johnson) and Peggy Blaine (Mary-Louise Parker). Within this setting of five main characters, several of them are cheating on each other, having secret affairs, and scheming to get out of this mess and into the clear. Who's who and what's what? Who knows?!

Persons of interest

  • Patricia Arquette .... Sandra Dunmore
  • Dermot Mulroney .... Jake Dunmore
  • Mary-Louise Parker .... Peggy Blane
  • Ellen DeGeneres .... Sergeant Rita Pompano
  • Ray McKinnon .... Rollins
  • Alex Rocco .... Detective Crowley
  • Don Johnson .... Ben Dunmore
  • Andre Gregory .... Reverend Finlayson
  • John Neville .... Bradley
  • JoNell Kennedy .... Evelyn
  • Will Stewart .... Dennis
  • David Brisbin .... Mr Brodsky
  • Lisa Eichhorn .... Mrs Brodsky
  • George Furth .... Mr Merritt
  • Barry Newman .... Senator Lassetter
  • Ron Peer .... Screenwriter
  • Roland Joffé .... Director

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Pulp Beverley Hills 90210.

In the long line of "films that keep you guessing", Goodbye lover sets up a premise then twists it several times to make things... u minutes... interesting. Unfortunately it's not very original. Having blatantly set itself up as a twisty thriller the film undercuts the essence of twisty thrillers which is that the audience must not expect a thrilling twist. Or even a non-thrilling twist. They must expect the expected so that they are surprised when the twist kicks in. Most of the twists in Goodbye lover come just after the introduction of a new character so they're pretty easy to predict.

And there's another thing I will rant about: new characters. New characters can only be introduced if you have established early on that they will be coming. You have to signal your intentions or you end up creating the deus ex machina conundrum. The best plays in Ancient Greece were the ones that got the characters into so much trouble that only the gods could sort out the mess. Unfortunately, having gods jump in to clean things up just when they're getting really messy is aesthetically unpleasant. Devout, but not much fun. Imagine Sylvania Waters if everyone sobered up.


Throwing a brand new character into a story after the first third has past shows that the writer got themselves into a fix and could only sort it out by changing the rules. The basis of a good story is that it only uses ingredients that were presented in the introduction. Imagine baking a cake from a recipe that only tells you that you need castor sugar when you're about to put the mix into the oven: wrong, wrong, wrong! All the important things (like characters, guns, phobias, etc.) must be presented at the beginning. Anything else is cheating. It'd be like giving Superman new powers which no-one has ever seen before but which just happen to get him out of a terrible dilemma. Bad, bad, bad.

Oh, yeah, the film. With the exception of Patricia all the actors do their job well, especially Alex as the Mormon from hell who makes Mickey Mouse look like an evil pederast. Patricia plays a variety of schizophrenic characters within the Sandra role. I don't know why she does this because it has nothing to do with the character and detracts from the verisimilitude. Crazy people who actually seem crazy belongs to the 70s. In the new millennium crazy people have to be indistinguishable from sane people. Just take your potato's word on this.

All up, Goodbye lover will fill in a couple of hours on a slow Friday night at home but there's no reason to rush out and see it right now.

Media intelligence (DVD)

  • Dialogue: English, French, Italian
  • Picture: Pan and scan, Widescreen
  • Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: Arabic, Dutch, English, French, Italian, Spanish

Security censorship classification

MA 15+ (Medium level violence)

Surveillance time

99 minutes (1:39 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

DVD rental: 5 June 2000

Cinema surveillance images

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