Good Posture review – Dolly Wells’ directorial debut is charming yet forgettable

Films about female friendships have become more popular in recent years, but it isn’t often we see a friendship like the one in Good Posture. We’ve seen differences in wealth and life choices explored in female friendship films for decades, from Me Without You to The Other Woman. Yet, few have tried to explore what an intergenerational female friendship looks like.

Good Posture does just this, as we witness the developing relationship between flatmates Lilian (Grace Van Patten) and Julia (Emily Mortimer). With seemingly nothing in common, these two women appear to be unlikely friends. Julia is an uptight author in a strained marriage who shies away from social interaction, while Lilian is an aimless graduate who shows no interest in growing up. 

via IMDb

From the first scene together, we are painfully aware of the significant differences between the two. Yet over time, we come to realise that such differences need not stand in the way of friendship. Connection is a basic human necessity, and even the strangest, coldest or most isolated person can love and be loved if given the opportunity. We see this throughout Good Posture, as the inhabitants of the New York brownstone slowly form close bonds while unapologetically embracing their oddness.

Grace Van Patten shines as Lilian, whose refusal to cooperate with anyone or to show any sort of gratitude can make her a difficult character to like. However, as the film progresses and we learn more about Lilian, her characteristics begin to make sense. We learn of her fragile relationship with her father and come to see she is more vulnerable than she lets on. Van Patten does an admirable job with this complex and flawed character, making her at once strange and sympathetic.

Like many her age, Lilian is partly immature, partly curious, wishing to find her own way of doing things, but unsure of how to do so. Cue bad decisions. Although she is rebellious and frustrating, she is also a character who provides a sense of comfort to audiences, who can relate to feeling aimless and lost. On paper, she has everything she needs to succeed, including wealth and a degree, yet still, she fails to achieve success. Even at the end of Good Posture, her happily ever after involves working at a cafe, and the documentary she begins during the film is never completed.

This is refreshing to see, as it makes the film feel more honest and reality-based. We are only witnessing a small period of Lilian’s life, so it feels natural to have a story that doesn’t tie up nicely or answer all our questions. There are already so many films where protagonists reach seemingly unattainable heights. It’s a nice change to see one where the main character only makes small improvements, rather than achieving sudden, extreme success. 

Emily Mortimer’s performance is another highlight of the film, despite being physically absent from most scenes. While largely a frightening and severe character, there are moments she exudes an undeniable warmth that makes Julia an impossible character to dislike. Walking a fine line between a strict authority figure and a comforting friend, she finds the perfect balance of cold but caring. Most striking about her performance is that, despite being used for voice-overs most of the time, she is still a very familiar character of whom we get a strong sense. Her talent and experience results in a powerful performance, her presence constantly felt even when her character is absent.

Although Good Posture is predominantly about women, George (Timm Sharp) and Sol (John Early) are characters which the audience will particularly enjoy. They stand out for their comedic roles, bringing a lightheartedness to a film that can otherwise feel one-note. Both delightfully awkward and sincere, they provide the perfect amount of humour and naivety to balance the film’s cynicism.

While not a film that will leave you laughing until it hurts, Good Posture is amusing enough. Sweet and simple, it offers a short period of insight into the lives of its characters, which you will enjoy watching before quickly forgetting.

Good Posture is out now.