There’s something about a British crime thriller that’s just irresistible. Between the dry wit, the brutal realism, and the inherent disorientation of watching people drive on the wrong side of the street, these films rarely miss. A Good Woman Is Hard To Find, Abner Pastoll’s feature-length debut, is no exception.

a nightmare of crime, murder, and dismemberment

But it would be a great disservice to just refer to A Good Woman as a ‘crime thriller.’ Pastoll and screenwriter Ronan Blaney (Don’t Go, Love Bite) deliver a bloody blend of grief, trauma, and revenge. The story kicks off when Tito (Andrew Simpson) barges in to a flat after ripping off a local drug kingpin. He forces Sarah (Sarah Bolger), recently widowed with two kids, to hide the drugs in exchange for a cut. Low on cash and dealing with a son who stopped talking after witnessing her husband’s murder, she reluctantly agrees. These circumstances kick off a chain of events plunging Sarah headfirst into a nightmare of crime, murder, and dismemberment.

Bolger (The Lazarus Effect, The Spiderwick Chronicles) carries the film through a clearly defined character arc. From beaten down, to broken, to sinister, to triumphant, Bolger delivers a powerful, believable performance at every stage of Sarah’s journey. Caolan Byrne (The Foreigner) turns in a sinister performance as the villain. Meanwhile, both of Sarah’s children (Ben and Lucy) feature prominently. They are portrayed by two first-time child actors, albeit with limited dialogue. Lucy, the younger of the two, is in the age of repeating the last word she hears. Admittedly, this running gag ranges from annoying, to eye-rolling, but ultimately comes full circle with a fun payoff.

Bolger delivers a powerful, believable performance

Cinematographer Richard C. Bell (A Night of Horror Volume 1) also makes an impressive feature-length debut. An early tracking shot foreshadows Sarah and Tito’s eventual intersection, as the camera abruptly changes direction and focus from one character to the other in an impressive, unbroken shot. Meanwhile, composer Matthew Pusti (Death Note, Godzilla vs. Kong) brings a nerve-wracking score, combining to deliver a very polished, professional finished product to the screen.

Narratively, the only negatives to be thrown at A Good Woman are minor bits of plot convenience. Granted, these moments are necessary to bring Sarah’s journey full circle, and don’t significantly detract from overall enjoyment of the film. Nevertheless, they’re noticeable enough to be worthy of a mention. Overall, it’s still a solid recommend as the positives far outweigh the negatives.

A Good Woman Is Hard To Find screened at the 2019 Fantasia Film Festival.