The Good Night
Not above cashing-in on family connections, writer/director Jake Paltrow’s romantic comedy casts his older sister Gwyneth as the dowdy, disaffected partner of commercial jingle writer Gary (Martin Freeman).
A kind of Anglo-American attempt to conjure up a Michel Gondry-like world of waking dreams in a New York setting, The Good Night also features Penelope Cruz as the pneumatic but vapid object of Gary’s nocturnal desires. Conflicted between his lush dreams and grim reality, Gary seeks to avoid the bad example set by thoughtless pal Paul (Simon Pegg) in favour of getting advice from a dream doctor (Danny DeVito). The situation gets complicated when Gary discovers that dream lover Cruz is in fact not only a real woman but a professional model, working in the same city.
Suffering primarily from Paltrow’s sitcom-without-laughs script, The Good Night’s terminal naffness is also evident in the choice of T’Pau’s ‘China in Your Hand’ as a romantic song, or the easy listening version of Blur’s ‘The Universal’ which plays every time Cruz appears. Equally pedestrian is Paltrow’s decision to film the dream sequences on lustrous 35mm stock, and reality in grimy blown-up Super 16. The result is that The Good Night alternately resembles both a drab knitwear commercial and an over-lit banking infomercial. And, despite energetic support from Pegg, Freeman never suggests any depth as a depressed, listless sad sack whose dreams are so insipid they’re more like screensavers than manifestations of inner passions: having such an arrested, adolescent character centre-stage makes The Good Night into one big yawn.
Selected release from Fri 18 Jan.