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Goodbye Lover
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Goodbye Lover More at IMDbPro »

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25 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Great film - if you set your expectations correctly

Author: Curtis Mark Stratmeyer ( from Bellevue, Washington
3 February 2002

You can't please everyone. If you have a story that's easy to follow people will say its boring and predictable. If you have a richly complex story, people will say its labyrinthine and confusing. The trick is to have something in the middle, and that is what Goodbye Lover gives us.

The central thread is simple. The complications happen on the periphery. You can't watch this movie with one eye closed. You have to pay attention! How can you have a mystery when you already know whodonnit? Ah, that is the question. Are you up to the challenge?

This is a comedy. Comedies have license to be wacky and over-the-top. Patricia Arquette and Ellen DeGeneres give standout performances. I love this movie. Its very entertaining, very clever, very funny, fast paced, never boring. Isn't that what a comedy should be?

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20 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

"Image is everything"

Author: aarthur from East Bay, CA
13 February 2002

"Goodbye Lover" is a quite good dark comedy about -- as Jake Dunmore says quoting his brother Ben -- "Image is everything." Everything in this movie is about image, and yet nothing is at it appears. And in this respect the very context of the movie sustains the content exceedingly well: it's a beautifully shot movie -- too pretty, in fact. So pretty it's easy to miss the fetidness just beneath the surface.

Almost every shot is too shiny, too glossy, too seamless, too meticulously composed. Many scenes are suffused with those ubiquitous cinematic blues and oranges contemporary DPs and directors like so much, but raised to such a degree that it almost enters the realm of the fanciful. Many other scenes are done in hi-tech blacks, whites, and grays. Everything is window dressing -- reality is nothing more than appearance, beautifully symbolized by mirrors everywhere. Lots of mirrors, shiny surfaces, glass & windows, all reflecting everyone to everyone else, a world of appearances without substance, without soul. And when people aren't being reflected in mirrors they're being framed behind glass, a diorama for display. The world is just one big department store window.

Yet just as a structurally crumbling, termite-ridden house can be painted to look pristine and beautiful, so does this shiny veneer hide the most vicious, rapacious, cynical behavior. Indeed, the world in which this takes place may look beautiful, but it is very very empty and ugly. And as such this is a kind of morality tale that shows the dangers to a society that lives strictly for appearance.

There are few movies I can think of which so excellently explore this tense boundary between the shiny packaging, and the rancid stuff it hides. As Ben Dunmore says, "People worry that it's a dangerous and sh*tty world. And it is our job to make it look safe and clean." Thus our hero works at a PR firm, packaging a morally bankrupt politician as a wholesome, devout family man; the president of the PR firm pretends to be a holy man -- a rather inherent contradiction; our two principals work in a church that obviously serves Mammon over anything else: religion is just another accoutrement, something to accessorize the soul; and then there's the wedding chapel in Las Vegas, where an unctuous smile sells ersatz sincerity. [Sorry.] Etc. (In fact, it's surprising how many such examples of this there are in the movie -- the writers were very inventive and consistent in coming up with such a profusion of image vs substance motifs.)

The only person in this world of appearances who doesn't belong, Detective Rollins, is a "F*cking Mook" -- as his partner, Sergeant Rita Pompano (Ellen Degeneres), calls him. For him, appearance *is* reality. His sincerity is regarded with mocking disbelief by everybody: he obviously doesn't understand the rules of the game that everyone else is playing. Even we, the audience, take sides against him -- that's how subtly subversive and well presented -- even seductive -- this world is.

And speaking of Ellen Degeneres, she is great in this movie. Others complain that she isn't funny or witty, merely insulting. But in one of those delightful twists where the line between fiction and reality dissolves, this is her payback for the flack she took from the forces of christian oppression after she came out of the closet. Ellen obviously relishes this role -- she mercilessly mocks her Mormon partner, gets to be a "guy" (and, for an attractive woman, she is laudably unattractive in this role), and, at the end of the movie, looks ridiculous when she dresses in "drag".

This may also be Don Johnson's best movie. For once he gets to play the kind of character he seems uniquely equipped to play: a high-end used car salesman, all style, all flash, sexy in his way, but empty and sleazy. It's very fitting that when he says he's "trying to get something real in his life", he unknowingly gets quite the opposite. And, since he wants to leave the game, he no longer belongs in this world -- and is appropriately removed from the game.

Sometimes the symbolism is a bit heavy-handed ("Go For It" billboard), as is the writing ("You need to go down on your knees for her." "Well, someone obviously did."). But it's all in good spirits, and I'm willing to accept its blemishes (as it were) 'cause it succeeds admirably in most other respects. And the acting in general is uniformly solid -- in fact, it's very well cast, even the curiously unfatale femme fatale Patricia Arquette.

The movie ends on a wonderfully humorous note to the tune of "Climb Every Mountain" as image thoroughly triumphs over substance, much as it does in real life -- which may be the reason this movie doesn't sit well with many people.

The filmmakers obviously had fun making this movie, and it shows. All in all, it's a very well-made, fun movie -- if you scratch its surface. [8/10]

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17 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Very pleasing neo-noir with good cast and lots of humor

Author: Karl Mauk from Vienna, Austria
25 April 2000

I wrote this comment mainly because there are so many negative reviews posted here and fewer positive ones and I think this film definitely deserves better. I liked it very much, have seen it twice, once on the big screen and just now on DVD. It was not the least bit boring the second time even though the film relies heavily on its plot twists and the suspense they produce. I think many people just don't come to terms with cross-overs, they want either a suspense film that takes itself dead serious or a clear cut comedy. I liked the humor in the film and its outrageous characters well played by a perfectly assembled cast. Patricia Arquette is just great, a pleasure to watch! She deserves the price for the funniest sociopath femme fatale ever seen on the silver screen. Vincent Gallo in his tiny role as contract killer is the icing on the cake! The film is superbly shot and directed and features a brilliant soundtrack. I voted it a 9.

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12 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

I really enjoyed this movie

Author: patricia o tuama from Illinois
6 July 2000

I'd never heard of this movie and came across it as it was starting on cable last night. I only intended to watch a few minutes of it and then go to sleep but I ended up watching the whole thing. I was particularly intrigued with Ellen Degeneres' character, a hard-boiled, seen-it-all detective with a great sense of timing and humor. I was also very impressed with the direction and editing, the movie moves at a fast, bright clip, it's quick and sexy and funny. And I liked Patricia Arquette as the conspiring wife, she plays her role with deft accuracy. Unlike the first reviewer of this movie who found the plot twists predictable, neither my husband nor I saw them coming. I thought this was a thoroughly enjoyable movie, I'm only sorry we missed seeing it on the big screen.

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

A sexy, noirish thriller that keeps you guessing

Author: dan-303 from Sitka, Alaska
11 June 1999

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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16 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

Exhausting twists and wrong turns...

Author: moonspinner55 from las vegas, nv
23 October 2005

Shady married couple conspire to knock-off the husband's rich brother, but when the wife finds out her husband is in cahoots with the brother's spouse, she does some conspiring of her own. Over-plotted mystery-comedy-drama sat a long while on the shelf. Highly mediocre picture does have a great character for Patricia Arquette to play, but it still isn't funny enough nor convincing enough to make much of an impression. Though directed by the esteemed Roland Jaffe, this is just a cartoonish doodle that only served to give several under-used actors (Don Johnson, Ellen DeGeneres, Dermot Mulroney, Mary Louise Parker) a chance to be "colorful". End result is exhausting and tedious. ** from ****

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7 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Quirky, twisty Film Noir, well worth watching.

Author: sionlew from Cardiff, Wales
12 March 2005

If you've got nothing better to do one night and manage to catch this little gem on late night TV, then it's worth an hour and a half of your time.

A stylishly shot quirky film noir with a plot that twists and turns like a twisty-turny thing. With a sizzling performance by the weird femme fatale Patricia Arquette, and great dialogue from Ellen de Generes as the laconic cop, it's a very entertaining thriller.

Be warned if you are a cynic, Citizen Kane it ain't, but if you're a fan of the genre and into the Likes of Last Seduction, Bound, Palmetto etc., this underrated piece of work may just tickle your fancy.

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant mix of noir and comedy!

Author: kpyatt from U.S.A.
27 January 2000

"Goodbye Lover" is the remedy for a person in need of sizzling, film noir mystery or laugh-out-loud comedy. Patricia Arquette and Ellen DeGeneres carry the film and both seem right at place as their characters. Arquette plays Sandra Dunmore, Don Johnson is Ben, her husband's brother. Dermot Mulroney is Jake Dunmore, Sandra's husband. A plan is being woven and you don't always know by who, as insurance money is what everyone wants. I won't give anything away, even though twists aren't the only thing this film has going for it. Like I said, I spent half the time laughing hysterically. Ellen DeGeneres is Rita Pompano, a lazy detective who hates the human race and is only in the force because "Every once in a while I get to shoot somebody." The film's script is smooth and well written, full of the right dose of thrills and laughs. Despite what many may say about this film, it is the perfect example of what film noir is all about. Not just mystery, not just comedy, but a little bit of both. A fantastic film.

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6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Goodbye, chance at a good movie

Author: James Culver ( from Spokane, WA
17 April 1999

I'm usually very forgiving of movies (I'm a loyal defender of Speed 2 and The Postman), but I simply can't condone this awful, boring, and unpleasant movie. Every murder that happens is to utterly predictable that you just sit there in your seat begging for something interesting or original to happen, but it never does. Don Johnson's character is the only interesting one in the entire movie, but he's not in it for long, and things just go downhill from there. Not that I have anything against this kind of movie- one of my favorite movies last year was Wild Things, but that movie was smart, funny and interesting, and had fun characters. This loser of a movie has none of those things; the jokes are totally unfunny, and the plot developments are not the least bit interesting. Patricia Arquette is not the least bit convincing (or all that attractive, really) as a femme fatale wannabe, and Ellen DeGeneres, a great actress who could have made this character smart and funny, instead makes a character who is boring, annoying, and rather depressing to watch. Take, for example, the way she makes fun of her Mormon partner- there is no cleverness in her jokes, only rudeness, and so they all fall flat. The main reason that I was interested in this movie was because I kept hearing about all the great plot twists. Beware: there aren't really all that many, and none of them are the least bit believable. If you want a good neo-noir with fun plot twists, go rent Wild Things or The Usual Suspects, but leave this loser alone- it's not worth the film it's printed on.

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7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Love the actors in this movie

Author: cspfp2 from United States
21 September 2006

But I HATED the movie. First, Ellen (sorry I love her) was terrible. She just is not that person and can't pull it off. Her having a trashy mouth and being a hard as nails cop just doesn't work at all.

After that everything else pales.

If you like Mary Louise Parker, watch Weeds and Fried Green Tomatoes and Boys on the Side, and Saved and The Client, and Angels in America, but do not watch this movie please.

Patricia Arquette - love her and actually I did love her performance in this movie, but the rest of the movie was just so awful it's a large price to pay to see her performance.

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