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Published January 26th, 2008 | by Mike Barnard

Good Dick Review

Classification: 15 Director: Marianna Palka Rating: 3.5/5

The terms “alternative cinema” and “romantic comedy” are rarely seen in the same sentence together, however Good Dick is one of those exceptions. At times heart warming and at others difficult, Marianna Palka’s movie sees two would-be lovers misfire as a man tries to win the heart of a woman so closed she invites him into her home seemingly only to demean every word he utters. The exercise in tough love proves to be far from the ordinary male pursuit of a resisting female, yet in its uniqueness lies a lot of truth to the complexity of human relationships.

In this quirky look at difficult human relations, writer/director Marianna Palka stars as a lonely woman who catches the eye of a video store attendant (Ritter). She’s just looking for the latest erotic movie to amuse herself with, but he finds her a potential, if challenging, prospect for a girlfriend. Their initial chats at the rental desk suggests she is a cold woman who simply wants her rentals as quickly as possible so she can get out of the store and return home. It’s a harsh task he faces to get her alone and in the mood to talk about more than about her transaction, and one the average Joe would find so daunting they would not even try even if she looked like Angelina Jolie. However, he persists in the hope what she says is masking her thoughts and makes for uncomfortable viewing, even after finding himself in a bizarre co-habitation at her flat only for her to continue to resist his advances. It’s strength lies in the fact it is remains compelling.

Good Dick’s take on relationships is about as far away from the generic Hollywood rom com as you can get: neither of the two potential lovers offer grand signals to each other and it is starkly lit to drain those rose-tinted colours so often seen on screen in the comforting mainstream cinema take on relationships. Palka does well to prevent Ritter’s unnamed character from coming across as a freaky stalker while somehow retains an alluring charm to her own unidentified part – no mean feat when there’s a certain arrogance about them both. Even in their spikiest moments something wills you to want them to form a union best-suited for them both when it’s hard to know what that might be. These are the times you realise just how clever this movie really is.

Palka earned herself the New Directors Award for Good Dick at the Edinburgh Film Festival last year, a title earned the hard way and for a genre so rarely done any favours. Here male and female relations are exposed as far from the simple rules of attraction the media would have us believe – it can’t always be as easy as we might hope or dream. Perhaps best suited to cinephiles and cynics (admittedly often the same people), Good Dick gives an alternative take on stories of love which will still have you sighing by the end.

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