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With: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Luke Kleintank, Eloise Smyth, Bruce Davison, Ieva Florence
Written by: Ross Partridge, Stephan Rick
Directed by: Stephan Rick
MPAA Rating: R for language
Running Time: 105
Date: 06/17/2022

The Good Neighbor (2022)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Next Door Belabor

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This mechanical, cookie-cutter thriller takes the old "psycho neighbor" genre popular in the 1990s, and, rather than riffing on it, slavishly copies it in a way that's devoid of suspense or life.

Journalist David (Luke Kleintank) arrives in Riga, Latvia following a bad breakup. He has taken a job working for an old colleague, Grant (Bruce Davison), and will even be staying in Grant's house. While trying to get Grant's car started, he meets his neighbor, nurse Robert (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), and they strike up a friendship. One night while out for drinks together, David hits it off with Janine (Ieva Florence) and gets her phone number.

Unfortunately, driving back home on a dark road, David hits Janine on her bicycle. At Robert's urging, they leave her for dead, rather than risk arrest in a foreign country. As David's guilt creeps up on him, and as he becomes unexpectedly involved with Janine's sister Vanessa (Eloise Smyth), Robert becomes more and more obsessive and demanding toward David, to the point that it starts to feel dangerous.

The Good Neighbor follows the lead of things like Fatal Attraction and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle — two of the most successful movies in this genre — but with a male psychopath. (Jonathan Rhys Meyers is no match for Robert De Niro in Cape Fear, however.) The friendship is just the beginning of this movie's trouble. It doesn't flow, and never feels organic. It feels as if the two men are reading dialogue at each other. Plus David never seems to be working, and somehow has plenty of time for drinks and fishing.

Robert's sudden switch from buddy to stalker also makes little emotional sense. It's too abrupt. The same goes for Martin's meeting Janine in the bar. Their supposedly flirty conversation ("I like your bracelet") is so dull that it's head-scratching how he manages to come away with her phone number. And so it goes, with nearly every interaction in the movie.

The main problem with The Good Neighbor is that the characters' and their emotional interactions do not drive the plot. Rather, everything happens in service of the plot; the characters are enslaved by it. They can't move. Even the beautiful Latvian locations aren't used for much more than window dressing. In the end, there's little 'good' about this one.

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