The Good GirlAugust 25, 2002
A discount store clerk strikes up an affair with a stock boy who considers himself the incarnation of Holden Caulfield.
Release Year: 2002
Rating: 6.6/10 (25,784 voted)
Critic's Score: 71/100
Stars: Jennifer Aniston, Jake Gyllenhaal, Deborah Rush
The plot revolves around a young married woman whose mundane life takes a turn for the worse when she strikes up a passionate and illicit affair with an oddball discount-store stock boy who thinks he's Holden Caulfield.
John Carroll Lynch
Jack Field, Your Store Manager
John C. Reilly
Tim Blake Nelson
Heavy Set Woman
(as Jonathan Shere)
Big Haired Woman
It's her last best chance… is she going to take it?
Release Date: 25 August 2002
Filming Locations: Glen Capri Motel – 6700 San Fernando Rd., Glendale, California, USA
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $151,642
(11 August 2002)
(8 December 2002)
Did You Know?
To make Jennifer Aniston look more worn down, Miguel Arteta made her wear wrist weights for several weeks prior to filming, she also wore them during some of the scenes.
The stubble on Holden's face changes pattern and length when he is talking to Justine in the storeroom.
Holden gave me two of his stories to read. It was more like the story of what a story would be. It was about a boy who was put upon; whose mother is cold and selfish and whose father wanted him to play football. Other people didn't get him. Especiall girls…
an offbeat gem
Jennifer Anniston gives a beautiful, heartfelt performance in `The Good
Girl,' a film totally in tune with the rhythms of everyday life.
Justine Last is just one of the many people inhabiting this Deep South,
Bible Belt town who find themselves leading lives of quiet desperation,
imprisoned by the dreary sameness of their daily routines. Justine works
one of those generic five-and-dime drug stores that so define the culture
Middle America. Yet, Justine's job and work environment are not the only
sources of her frustration. She is also married to a well-meaning but
blue collar worker who would rather spend the evening sitting on the sofa
getting stoned with his partner than engage in any meaningful
relationship-building with his wife. At the age of 30 then, Justine is
for some kind of life-changing experience when in walks Holden Worther, an
introverted, obviously disturbed young co-worker who sees in Justine the
very soul mate he has been searching for all his life, a person who will
understand him and share his hatred for the life they are both leading.
`The Good Girl' is really about the contrast between what we would like
lives to be and what they really are. Justine knows that the `easy'
would be to pull up stakes and simply run away with Holden, abandoning a
town, a marriage and a husband she has come lately to both abhor and
despise. Yet, something keeps Justine rooted to the spot, something that
makes her understand that any decision she makes will end up hurting
in the end besides herself. Perhaps she sticks around because she
that, for all his faults, her husband is, in reality, a pretty decent guy
overall and that he really does love her. Perhaps she also realizes that
Holden is more mentally disturbed than she is willing to admit and that
whatever life she might have with him would only mean exchanging one set
troubles for another. Credit the Mike White screenplay with exploring the
complex nature of the film's characters and relationships. We never quite
know where the story is headed or how all the issues will get resolved –
at all. As in real life, the story here keeps bumping up against new and
ever more challenging complications and, because we can identify with the
messiness, we are eager to go along with it wherever it chooses to take
The film also does a fine job showing how life takes wholly unexpected
at times, such as when a fairly major character dies unexpectedly. The
casual suddenness of the death throws us for a loop since we so rarely see
death portrayed that way in the movies.
Miguel Arteta's deadpan, matter-of-fact directorial style brings out the
black comedy richness inherent in the material. Amid all the pain and
sadness, there are a surprising number of genuine laughs in the film as we
see our own lives reflected in the people and incidents there on the
Actually, the film reminds us a bit – in its music, its use of voiceover
narration and its unromanticized view of rural life – of Terrance Malick's
great 1973 film, `Badlands,' a landmark in independent American
Anniston, who is probably in every scene in the film, carries the picture
with her rich and highly empathetic performance. Even though her
is a woman slowly becoming deadened to the world around her, she still
retains that spark of life and that absurd hope for the future that make
worthy to be the centerpiece of an intimate drama such as this one. Jake
Gyllenhaal makes Holden both strangely appealing and a little frightening,
so that, as Justine does, we come to admire his `uniqueness' of spirit (he
has adopted his name from the main character of his favorite book `Catcher
in the Rye') yet fear his increasing possessiveness. John C. Reilly as
Justine's husband, Phil, and Deborah Rush as Gwen Jackson, Justine's
sometime confidante at the store, also provide memorable, telling
performances. In fact, there is nothing less than a superb performance in
the entire film.
The question of whether or not Justine is really `a good girl' is, as it
should be, left up to the individual viewer to decide. Some may feel she
is; others may feel she's not. What really matters, though, is that `The
Good Girl' doesn't try to impress us with the slickness that generally
defines mainstream commercial filmmaking. Instead it lets its drama
in an unforced, believable manner, so that even its moments of greatest
absurdity seem somehow strangely real and lifelike. It is a film that, in
its own quiet, subtle way, manages to get under your skin – and keeps you
thinking for a long time after you leave the theater.