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Review: Good Grief


Four women experience the agony of child loss in a film that highlights the importance of grief.


As the title and premise should telegraph, Good Grief is not an easy watch, but it cannot be overstated how important a watch it is. Tackling the incredibly emotive topic of child loss, writer/director Rob Sharp brings us an experience handled with a disarming level of sensitivity. Following four women who lose their children at very different ages, we start down the long journey of bereavement of possibly the most heart-breaking kind. Sharp’s visual representation of the immediate impact of losing a child, followed by the guilt felt by the four mothers contemplating living the rest of their lives is as uncomfortably immersive as it is enlightening.


Each mother is presented with a glowing orb, that they are told is theirs for the rest of their lives. Having a physical manifestation of grief proves not only to be effective visual shorthand for the pain each of these women have to carry, but also an almost hypnotic inescapable presence. There is a visual irony in this orb appearing so calming representing unspeakable pain. The style and tone set by Sharp’s directorial interpretation brilliantly communicates the dichotomy of outer stillness and internal turmoil.


Key to making the vision work, however are the heartbreakingly stellar performances of the four leads of the film, Bethany Asher, Abigail Pidgeon, Solaya Sang and Mercedes Assad. Giving themselves fully to the mercilessly painful journey that each of them must traverse, each one of them roots us firmly into the all-consuming darkness of their grief. Leaving it all out on the field, their performances translate the trauma of the moment into a force that hits us like a sledgehammer. Greater still is the ability of the four bereaved mothers to communicate the barely contained despair, desperation, guilt and rage that they have to carry seemingly at all times.


These factors are tempered and focused by the presence (if in voice only) of the amazing Vicky McClure, giving context to the seemingly insurmountable challenge that the four leads of the film are forced to confront. Knowing exactly when to shift from tender and sensitive to borderline antagonistic without causing a jarring shift in tone is one of the key talents that McClure brings to the storytelling. As the guide through the grieving process, McClure’s disembodied voice has to provide clarity without spelling out the themes and philosophy of the story (a further credit to the writing executed by Rob Sharp).


Ultimately, the big trap that this film avoids is telling the audience how to feel. It does not flinch from the devastating impact of its premise, nor does it tie up the narrative and character journeys in a neat bow. Instead, we are taken on a journey of realisation for each of the characters with no specific action or timeframe revealing the “solution” to something as complex as grief. This short film is at once relentless and considerate, doing the complex work of tying very different experiences of bereavement together with a shared resolve to face their pain without denying the love that their pain sprang from.


An at once emotionally flooring and surprisingly empowering take on the grieving process, Good Grief is a film that very much earns its recommendation.




Director: Rob Sharp | Producers: Sophie Black, Charlie Clarke, Rob Sharp | Writer: Rob Sharp

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