A complex plot is not nearly enough to make an interesting movie, a fact which is clearly demonstrated by the film noir Goodbye Lover. With enough plot twists to fill three other films, Goodbye Lover shows that a ludicrous number of double-crosses can’t compensate for the lack of enjoyable characters and quality dialogue.
The film is populated by a plethora of amoral no-gooders. Sandra (Patricia Arquette) is a real estate agent who gets kicks out of using other people’s houses for her torrid sexual fantasies. Ben (Don Johnson) is a PR weasel, the slimy type who, when not covering up for a senator’s tawdry misbehavior, is having an affair in the back rooms of a church. Jake (Dermot Mulroney) is a bitter alcoholic, who is self-destructing and wants to take everyone down with him. The nicest of the bunch would have to be Peggy Blaine (Mary-Louise Parker), who merely seeks intimate relationships with her co-workers.
The plot of Goodbye Lover is too convoluted to summarize here without spoiling half the movie. Suffice it to say that it involves sex, money, greed, lust, affairs, murder, fraud, backstabbing, serial killing, and The Sound of Music.
Thrown in the midst of everything is Detective Rita Pompano (Ellen DeGeneres), an extremely cynical investigator who tries to make sense of all this. With her new partner always a half-step behind, Detective Pompano slowly but surely begins to unravel the truth.
Ellen DeGeneres is the best thing Goodbye Lover has to offer, even if she comes across as more of a droll comedienne than a police investigator. Her witty banter is actually a bright spot in this otherwise dull movie. And, even though she’s primarily a tangental character, she’s the most interesting of the lot.
The plotting of Goodbye Lover feels more like a soap opera than film noir, and an unconvincing one at that. Relationships, twists and surprises seem to crop up simply because they could be worked into the script… not because they make sense.
Goodbye Lover is chock full of twist and turns. However, the film actually isn’t that hard to follow…it just gives you no reason to bother.