Fantasia 2019 Review: Revenge-Filled ‘A Good Woman Is Hard to Find’ is A Satisfying Hit to Patriarchal Expectations

A camera opens on a woman shaking and covered in blood, but it’s not her own. It follows her closely as she quickly washes herself off to hide any evidence of violence. We learn that this is Sarah (Sarah Bolger), a widow who is trying her best to raise her two kids after the murder of her husband. She is the focus of Abner Pastoll’s film, A Good Woman Is Hard to Find, which screened at this year’s Fantasia Fest. This is a film full of misogyny, blood, violence, and a woman fighting back against it all in the name of a better life for her kids.

In the midst of trying to care for her kids and find her husband’s killer, Sarah becomes forcibly involved with a drug dealer named Tito (Andrew Simpson), who shoves his way into her apartment after stealing drugs. Sure, she gets a cut of the profits but as Tito gets too comfortable and familiar with her home, she turns to violence to protect her family. Meanwhile, a grammar-obsessed crime boss named Leo (Edward Hogg) is searching for Tito after he stole his drugs. All of their paths meet in a mess of gore and dismemberment.

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‘Michael Inside’ Provokes Empathy Through Honest Realism

Michael Inside features many kinds of petty criminals. From his despondent father to his drug-dealing friends, the eponymous Michael McCrea (Dafhyd Flynn) is surrounded by loss and violence, despite his own reluctance to become involved with the darker side of Dublin life. A haunting take on the responsibility of choice, Frank Berry’s second feature explores what happens when an average young man becomes a cog in a dangerous system – and the damning repercussions of coerced toxic masculinity. 

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The film begins by introducing its teenage protagonist as an everyday 18-year-old boy with everyday concerns; within the washed out grey-blue hues of Berry’s working-class Ireland, Michael plays football, attends college, and spends time with his girlfriend. His past may be spotted with mistakes and ill luck, but the film quickly establishes that Michael is not innately violent nor ill-meaning. When Michael is caught hiding drugs for a mate’s brother, however, he is sentenced to three months in prison, to the despair of his beloved grandfather, Francis (Lalor Roddy). What follows is a harsh and intimate look at the eradication of Michael’s teenage innocence, as prison life pushes him further and further towards a violence he had always sworn against. 

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