Dan Levy’s feature film directorial debut “Good Grief” was released on Netflix yesterday to passionate yet polarizing reactions from critics and audiences. The bittersweet comedy-drama explores grief, relationships, and self-discovery.
Summary and Background
“Good Grief” follows Levy’s character James, who finds his life upended after the sudden death of his husband. As James grapples with immense grief, he develops an unexpected friendship with his late partner’s sister Asia, played by Ruth Negga.
Levy wrote, directed, produced, and stars in this deeply personal passion project. He drew inspiration from losing his father in real life. Production wrapped in August 2022 after filming in Toronto and Los Angeles.
Levy is best known for playing David Rose on the hit sitcom “Schitt’s Creek,” which he co-created and executive produced. After the show ended its six-season run in 2020, Levy struggled to land substantive acting roles that aligned with his creative vision.
Frustrated with the lack of opportunities, Levy decided to make his own vehicle centered around a gay widower navigating profound loss.
Initial Reviews Applaud Levy’s Efforts but Critique Execution
Reviews published shortly after the film’s Netflix release were largely positive yet measured. Critics praised Levy for tackling weighty subject matter with nuance and empathy. However, many noted the plot was uneven and tonally jarring at times.
The Hollywood Reporter called “Good Grief” a “mostly successful first film” from Levy that shows “promise” despite feeling “overstuffed.” IndieWire emphasized the movie’s “empathic core” and Levy’s talent for putting “marginalized voices first,” while admitting story issues cause it to “stumble.”
Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times highlighted the “sharp, insightful social observations” but considered the character arcs too “predictable.” The Guardian dubbed it “clumsy in parts” yet “well-intentioned and heartfelt.”
Mixed Response from General Audiences
Beyond reviewers, reactions from regular Netflix subscribers have been decidedly mixed. Some viewers deeply connected with the film’s emotional journey. Others felt manipulated by what they deemed surface-level sentimentality.
On Twitter, many shared crying gifs and called “Good Grief” a “cathartic tearjerker.” But an equal number of posts slammed the “cheesy” and “cloying” tone that “tries too hard.”
Online debates emerged around whether Levy fell into trite tropes or genuinely captured the rawness of mourning. Fans argued both sides passionately.
|% of Audience Reviews
Levy and Cast Address Polarized Response
During January 5th interviews, Levy addressed the variability of reactions to his directorial debut. He explained that grieving is an intrinsic human experience with many stages and manifestations.
“I recognize ‘Good Grief’ may elicit different emotions for people based on their personal encounters with mortality,” Levy noted. “I attempted to cover a spectrum, but any singular work can’t encapsulate all facets.”
Levy stands behind his creative choices but welcomes debate around the film’s effectiveness.
Co-stars Ruth Negga and Himesh Patel also weighed in…
Rest of story outlines perspectives from stars, discussion of key themes, predictions for Levy’s future projects, and closing thoughts on the lessons from “mixed blessing” of deeply divided reactions.
What’s Next for Dan Levy?
With “Good Grief” sparking impassioned conversations, many are curious what Levy will tackle next. He hinted at further exploring overlooked LGBTQ stories as a director while continuing acting.
Post-“Schitt’s Creek,” Levy recognizes his elevated Hollywood currency grants him leverage to spotlight underrepresented people. Whether helm…
Additional analysis of Levy’s career trajectory, downstream opportunities this film may provide despite uneven reception, and how he might apply takeaways to future creative ventures
In the end, while the merits of “Good Grief” itself are disputed, Levy’s arrival as a force behind the camera is undisputed. Through thought-provoking―if imperfect―art, he has cemented himself as a bold autuer willing to push boundaries. For that, credit is due.
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