Friends fans who love Jennifer Aniston will not find the bubbly Rachel that she is famous for portraying in her new movie The Good Girl (directed by Miguel Arteta).
In her place is a girl who is being dragged down by her mediocre Texas life and seeks some excitement in a boy.
Aniston is Justine Last, a Retail Rodeo (somewhat of a Wal-Mart) cosmetics worker who spends her days watching the clock and her nights wondering why she married her husband who can’t seem to get her pregnant.
As the film opens, the audience can tell that this woman’s life is everyone’s vision of hell.
She gets hounded by born-again Christians to join a bible study and is stuck in her dead-end job – two things that do not make for a particularly interesting life.
But then a new employee comes along at the Retail Rodeo: Holden (played by a brooding Jake Gyllenhaal), who seems to make Justine come to life.
In Holden she sees parts of herself and, of course, in not too short a time, they become lovers.
Justine soon feels guilty of her affair and tries to break it off with Holden. Easier said then done once she discovers that Holden is not exactly the kind of person she thought he was.
He is much more dark and disturbed. Holden becomes obsessed with her and refuses to let her end their relationship.
When her Last’s husband’s best friend Bubba (Tim Blake Nelson) tries to blackmail her about the affair, she realizes she’s gotten herself into more than she can handle.
It is a change to see Aniston play something other than a ditzy waitress.
Her clothes are boring and her hair is tousled, she is everything that Rachel is not: frumpy, never smiling and snappy.
Gyllenhaal (October Sky, Donnie Darko) is mesmerizing as Holden, a 22 year-old aspiring writer who is angry at the world.
He spends most of his time reading Catcher in The Rye and smoking Camel cigarettes wondering if he will ever find someone who will really understand him.
When he sees that Justine is going through the same anguish as he is, he latches onto her both sexually and emotionally.
Like all frustrated young adults, Holden can’t understand why Justine sees their relationship as wrong and tries to force her to leave town with him.
John C. Reilly (The Perfect Storm, Magnolia) offers a brilliant performance as Aniston’s husband, Phil. He’s what you would describe as a loser.
He spends his time painting houses and smoking up. It is clear in the way he acts that he loves Justine more than anything and always tries to make her happy.
The supporting cast helps this film stay afloat where it could have sunk. Mike White (Orange County), Zooey Deschanel (Almost Famous) and John Carroll Lynch (Bug) all give praiseworthy performances that add the necessary comic relief at just the right moments.
Even though they may hate their lives too, they allow us to see that not all people are dark and depressed.
The performances in The Good Girl are spectacular and the script is well written (by Mike White).
The message in the movie is for people to examine their lives and to find out what is really important to them and to be happy.