Hildy’s narration is wry and wise, sometimes conspiratorial and increasingly contradictory, as she shows us around the charming (and fictional) New England town of Wendover. She’s been the queen bee realtor for decades in this insular hamlet, but all that’s changing as nouveau riche families barge in from nearby Boston. Hildy’s proud of the fact that her family’s been a fixture in Wendover for centuries—dating to the time of the Salem witches, one of whom is her ancestor. (Cue the on-the-nose use of “Season of the Witch,” among the movie’s many perky music choices.) Now divorced (since her husband left her for a man) and infrequently in touch with her grown daughters, Hildy is struggling to determine who she is. And although she’s freshly out of rehab—after an intervention that’s played for laughs in the script from the husband-and-wife directing duo and Thomas Bezucha—being sober is not part of her new identity.
Watching Hildy try to keep all the balls in the air is both a source of humor and tension, as the disparity between who she is and who she pretends to be steadily widens. She’s losing clients and dodging phone calls from the Range Rover dealership, asking for her lease payment. And in no time, she’s switching from wine to vodka to help her cope. That’s all human and true, and Weaver plays it with subtlety and great comic timing.
But the one source of stability in her life comes from Kline’s Frank Getchell, her high school flame and first love. He’s the town’s cantankerous contractor/handyman, and his disheveled appearance and down-to-Earth demeanor would never suggest he’s the richest guy around. Their hesitant fumblings toward rekindling their romance are amusing and sweet—the kind of relationship older audiences don’t get to see often enough in the movies anymore. After co-starring opposite each other in the ‘90s in “Dave” and “The Ice Storm” Weaver and Kline have a warm, easy comfort in each other’s company, as well as a prickly, teasing affection. It’s like pulling on a favorite, old cardigan you forgot you had.
So much works so well for so long in “The Good House” that it’s frustrating when the film casts its eye elsewhere and begins paying way too much attention to the town’s peripheral figures. Rob Delaney co-stars as the therapist whose office is upstairs from Hildy’s; he’s obviously going through some kind of personal and professional flux of his own. Morena Baccarin is a newcomer, the beautiful wife in a wealthy couple that’s just bought a giant waterfront estate, but everything in her life isn’t as perfect as it appears. Kathryn Erbe is the former protégé of Hildy’s who stole all her clients when she formed her own agency; there’s not much to her beyond icy glances and snobbery. And Beverly D’Angelo breezes in and out as Hildy’s childhood best friend and longtime drinking buddy.