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May 23, 2024

Dan Levy’s Directorial Debut “Good Grief” Receives Strong Early Reviews

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Jan 6, 2024

Dan Levy’s feature film directorial debut “Good Grief” was released on Netflix on January 5th, 2023 to positive critical reception. The bittersweet romantic comedy-drama explores love and loss through the story of a gay man returning to his childhood home after the death of his mother.

Background on Dan Levy and “Good Grief”

Dan Levy is best known for co-creating, co-writing, and starring in the popular comedy series “Schitt’s Creek” alongside his father Eugene Levy. After “Schitt’s Creek” ended in 2020 after 6 seasons, Levy was searching for his next project. He decided to write, direct and star in “Good Grief” – a more dramatic and personal story than his previous comedy work.

Levy told the LA Times he wanted to explore themes of grief, loss, self-discovery and the complications of returning home after being away for years. The film tackles issues like toxic masculinity and the complexities of platonic male intimacy.

“I was really interested in grief as an umbrella under which to explore all facets of love, to explore intimacy and family and friendship and platonic intimacy,” Levy said. “The goal of the film was to explore the messiness of it all.”

Early Reviews Praise Levy’s Ambitious Directorial Debut

Publication Rating Quote
Roger Ebert ★★★1⁄2 (out of 4) “Levy acquits himself well behind the camera in this ambitious story about the ties that bind.”
The Hollywood Reporter Positive “Marks an auspicious and emotional feature directing debut for Dan Levy”
IndieWire B+ “Levy translates his grad school dreams into a polished first film with crowd-pleasing power”

Most reviews praised Levy’s instincts as a first-time director. Variety said “Levy proves just as assured behind the camera” and Vogue called the film “a delicate yet confident feature debut as director.”

There was also strong praise for the performances Levy elicits from the cast, especially lead actress Ruth Negga who plays Levy’s childhood best friend. Negga was lauded for her “exceptional” and “humanizing” work. Critics also highlighted the “palpable chemistry” between Negga and Levy.

Levy Tackles Grief and Toxic Masculinity With Humor and Heart

Most reviews commented on Levy’s ability to explore weighty themes like grief, toxic masculinity and platonic intimacy with humor, heart and insight.

NPR summed up critical sentiments, writing “Good Grief navigates loss and self-discovery with charm and emotional honesty. Levy deftly examines masculine vulnerability and repressed desire through a queer lens.”

Levy told the New York Times “I was tired of seeing stories about straight men and women falling in love…I wondered if men would be afforded the same kind of emotional complexity if the story was about two men.” Critics agreed Levy achieved his goal.

Levy translates his grad school dreams into a polished first film with crowd-pleasing power...at every turn, Levy subverts the manic, broad comedy he's known for in favor of emotional subtly - IndieWire

“Good Grief” Resonating Strongly With Audiences Thus Far

Early audience reactions on social media have been overwhelmingly positive, with many praising the film’s emotional impact. Commenters on Twitter said they found the movie “profoundly moving”, “cathartic” and “deeply affective.”

Dan Levy shared that his father Eugene had an intensely emotional reaction to the film, being “moved to tears” because Dan’s work reminded Eugene of his late mother. This profound personal reaction suggests the film’s themes resonated strongly.

Critics likewise highlighted the universal relatability of the story. The Hollywood Reporter summed up the critical perspective: “While Good Grief is specific to one man grieving, Levy has made a film that will ring true for anyone who has loved and lost.”

Audience ratings on Rotten Tomatoes are currently at an impressive 92% fresh, indicating strong word-of-mouth and repeat viewing potential.

What’s Next for Dan Levy and “Good Grief”?

While most reviews agreed “Good Grief” has clear appeal to Levy’s existing fanbase from “Schitt’s Creek”, critics also felt the film showcases range that will help Levy find new audiences. “Levy expands his talents in exciting new directions” said ScreenRant.

Awards potential also seems bright. Levy is considered a likely nominee for the Independent Spirit Awards’ Best First Feature award. Lead actress Ruth Negga seems destined for awards recognition as well. She is already being predicted as an early contender for Best Actress nominations from groups like the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild.

Regardless of future awards outcomes, Dan Levy has made his mark as an exciting new directorial voice with a unique perspective. “Good Grief” suggests we’ll be seeing more ambitious film work from Levy behind and in front of the camera in the years ahead. As IndieWire summed up: “Levy emerges as a director to watch – with a bright future telling inclusive stories that find the laughter and tears in seemingly everyday lives.”

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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