THE GOOD MOTHER – Review by Peg Aloi

This thriller stars Hilary Swank as Marissa Bennings, a journalist for the Albany Times Union in upstate New York. Swank’s performance is fairly understated, with an inscrutable accent that apparently is supposed to telegraph “upstate New York,” though it seemed forced. There are some narrative gaps and a rather abrupt ending that leaves many questions unanswered. Director Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, who co-wrote the script with Madison Harrison, is a young filmmaker with some solid storytelling skills. But this story, rooted in the director’s hometown, was at times both predictable and also somewhat confusing. The set-up is strong, the story relatable, but too many threads are left dangling.

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LIFE ITSELF – Review by Susan Granger

Many years ago, silent film star Lillian Gish observed: “Hollywood is an emotional Detroit, where you buy a catharsis instead of a car.” So we know movies are emotionally manipulative, but the much lauded TV writer/director Dan Fogelman (creator of “This Is Us”) pushes the sentimentality envelope too far in this mawkish, multigenerational melodrama.

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