The opening scene of Goodbye Lover is perhaps the most subtle part of the whole film: Patricia Arquette as Sandra, an LA realtor, is shown driving down a busy LA freeway while listening intently to a self-motivational tape. With this as evidence, we just _know_ this chick's nuts. And as the movie goes on, our suspicions are proved correct: we watch as Sandra schemes to kill her husband, Jake (Dermot Mulroney), along with her lover, who also happens to be Jake's brother, Ben (Don Johnson, in a particularly solid performance). But after Sandra's plan "succeeds", we learn that things aren't nearly as simple as they seem.
Rather, as we meet more and more characters, we find that each one is secretly screwing the other (In both senses of the word). A "good" girl played by Mary-Louise Parker and a cynical LA cop played by Ellen DeGeneres become embroiled in Sandra's web of deceit, and as each person succumbs to his/her avarice, the script gets funnier and funnier. In the end, it's a close tie between Arquette and Ellen for the most memorable moments in the film, but both characters have certain qualities that make them enjoyable to watch. Arquette's Sandra is a seductive and especially shrewd femme fatale who hums choruses from the Sound of Music while prancing about other people's homes (Arquette is the perfect Real Estate Agent From Hell). Meanwhile, DeGeneres' Rita Pompano is hilariously aloof to the lives of the people around her, casually dropping off-hand (And almost always crude and sarcastic) comments that demonstrate just how wise she is to Sandra's lusty motivations.
Sorry to say, I can't divulge too much of the film without spoiling it, but Goodbye Lover is something like a cross between The Last Seduction and Wild Things. However, unlike the ridiculous series of plot twists that just about ruined Wild Things, Goodbye Lover manages to avoid being too obvious in order to fulfill one's desire for a satisfying conclusion. Overall, I'd have to rate this sexy, noirish thriller with a well-deserved "A".
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