Good Favour


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Good Favour
"This is a film weighted with questions, balancing this burden with a luminous beauty."

Tom (Vincent Roméo) emerges from the forest wounded, clambering into the house like an animal seeking sanctuary. Rough-looking as he is, and apparently unwilling or unable to talk about what has happened to him, he would be met with suspicion and distrust in most communities, but here that is muted by another factor. This is a devoutly Christian village and extending help to those in need is one of its core principles.

Given a place to stay, Tom quickly picks up the rhythms of village life. He’s always willing to lend a hand. Villagers caution one another about asking where he came from, with a hint that some of them might have troubled pasts. What matters, they say, is where he is now, and his willingness to accept a simple, religiously-inspired life. Their trust also seems to stem from a certainty about one another. Most are not concerned by Tom’s friendship with a sheltered teenage girl (Clara Rugaard). Should they be? Perhaps, but not for the usual reasons.

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In the absence of suspicion among the villagers, the viewer gradually develops a sense of disquiet. There is something different about Tom. The way the children flock to him reminds one of that old tale of Hamelin. They tell the adults that he has special powers. Is he a messianic figure, or something darker? The wonders they seem to witness are delicately called into question by the film’s final act. Every human interaction that we see here is dependent on shared belief.

The brooding, pagan woods loom large as we learn that, before Tom’s arrival, a child vanished within them. The children believe that if they stray too far they may fall prey to monstrous things. Members of the German police force who visit the community are met with a polite lack of co-operation; what happens in the village stays in the village. One is reminded of M Night Shyamalan’s similar fable when it emerges that this stubborn separateness extends to denying an elderly woman potentially life-saving hospital treatment.

Good and evil are complicated things. In coming to question Tom’s true nature, his hosts might as well question their own. Slow moving as it is – and too open in its conclusion to fully satisfy most audiences – this is a film weighted with questions, balancing this burden with a luminous beauty. The blues and greens and browns of rural life blend together in Tibor Dingelstad’s evocative cinematography. There’s a knowingly old fashioned quality to this, the conjuring up of a pastoral dream. It’s as seductive as the love of a community or the promise of salvation – and as eerie.

Reviewed on: 23 Feb 2018
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When an injured teenager stumbles into a remote Christian community he is cared for and supported. Then the children become convinced that he has holy powers.

Director: Rebecca Daly

Writer: Rebecca Daly, Glenn Montgomery

Starring: Vincent Romeo, Lars Brygmann, Clara Rugaard

Year: 2017

Runtime: 101 minutes

Country: Ireland


Glasgow 2018

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