Set in the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighborhood of Montreal during Quebec’s 1995 secession referendum, Good Neighbors uses a dark historic moment as the backdrop for a much darker twist on traditional noir. Gothy waitress Louise (Emily Hampshire) and wheelchair-bound widower Spencer (Scott Speedman) are part of the young, English-speaking influx that has changed the face of the “NDG’s” hardcore Francophone population. Added to their number at the beginning of writer-director Jacob Tierney’s follow-up to The Trotsky is Victor (Jay Baruchel), a sweet, obsequious grade-school teacher who would seem to attach to the nearest available female—in this case the supremely indifferent woman next door. Louise’s chief preoccupations, meanwhile, are her two cats, the neighbor who curses out her cats in impenetrable Quebecois, and the serial killer-rapist at large in the area. A murder close to home freaks Louise out, but it’s a pointed cat poisoning that sends her, and Good Neighbors, over the edge. Tierney offers what preparations he can for the offbeat darkness to come—faint organ chords and a focus on his character’s idiosyncrasies build a sense of dread—but at least one part of the perfect, triple-crossing crime that plays out is so black you may want to wear shades.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 27, 2011