Production House: Wind Dancer Films, Muse Entertainment Enterprises
Cast: Tiya Sircar, Chad Connell, Marco Grazzini, Jesse Camacho
Dialogues: Dete Meserve, Teena Booth
Music: Mario Sévigny
Cinematography: Eric Cayla
Editing: Isabelle Levesque
Producers: Dete Meserve, Jesse Prupas
Story: Dete Meserve
Direction: Kate Melville
Premiere date: May 16, 2019
Kate Bradley, a budding television reporter from Channel 12, stationed at New York, gets her everyday adrenaline rush chasing crime scenes, disasters, accidents, nearly risking her life for the job she's extremely passionate about. And that doesn't invite good news from her boss, who believes that her adventurous streak has got insurance companies associated with the channel worried about her life safety. With much reluctance, Kate's asked to do a softer story of a Good Samaritan, where an anonymous man keeps dropping a cash bag across random households in the city. The story is a sensation overnight and the random acts of kindness don't come to a halt anytime soon.
Out of the blues, Jack Hansen, a friend to Kate's politician father, claims himself to be Good Sam. But something fishy surrounding Jack's identity has Kate thinking twice about his coming out as Good Sam. Based on a book written by Det Meserve, the feel-good drama is benefited by poignant writing that has its heart at the right place.
Tiya Sircar in the role of an Indian-origin journalist stationed in New York is extremely well-suited to play her part. Her body language, mannerisms depicting the spontaneity and the sense of urgency in a journalist, show how well has Tiya done her homework. The actor's performance is shorn of stereotypes and is a welcome change in portraying the ethos of the journalist community right. Chad Connell, as the do-gooder Eric Hayes, has a warming screen presence and his chemistry with Tiya, though subtle, is palpable. As a scheming political aspirant willing to go to any extent to fulfill his ambition, Marco Grazzini does justice. His portrayal rightly balances the diplomacy of a budding politician with his shrewdness.
Jesse Camacho, essaying the part of a cameraman accompanying Tiya to her assignments, has good comic timing working to his advantage. Most of the other supporting actors including Elena Dunkelman, Kenny Wong, Nick Walker don't change the course of the narrative but do their bit to make their presence felt. All in all, a good team effort, if we must put it briefly.
Filmmaker Kate Melville gets a lot of things right in her second directorial. Thankfully, the narrative is free from all the stereotypical sexist talk in a journalism setup, a regular feature across several films that feature female journalists as its protagonist. The writing is relevant enough to understand how women contribute to a media house's newsroom. The focus is on the journey of the leading protagonist and the film just doesn't make much fuss about her gender, which is a relief. The authenticity in depicting the day-to-day proceedings of a television channel is the film's biggest strength.
The viewer is totally in sync with the news sense of a budding journalist, the way they get their sources, do their research, follow-up on the stories, sometimes falter and yet report it to their bosses. Although the film also shows the competitiveness of the journalistic atmosphere, there's no attempt to sensationalise things. It could have been so convenient for the director to show journalists as mere TRP chasers but the filmmaker invests so much conviction into her backdrop and protagonist sans bias.
Even at 90 minutes, Good Sam proceeds at a leisurely pace. Sometimes, the leisureliness amounts to some redundancy in the structuring and positioning of the sequences. There are certain loose ends that could have been tightened.
Writers Teena Booth and Dete Meserve are the unsung heroes of Good Sam, their optimism about human nature is backed by their holistic understanding of worldly realities. The dialogue here is mostly in the slice-of-life space and realistic, precisely the space in which the film is set.
From reflecting the hurried pace of the story in its initial portions to its softer moods revolving around camaraderie, generosity in the latter half, Mario Sévigny's music score is an integral element of the narrative.
Eric Cayla's cinematography shows us the frenetic pace at which New York functions as a community and also captures the personal journey of its characters alluringly in the frames.
The scale of the film is akin to that of a television soap, constrained but decent enough to fit the needs of the story. There's no extravagance that the makers are trying to indulge in and seem to be content with their production limitations.
Crisp, engaging narrative
Strong journalistic detailing
Tiya Sircar's efficient performance
The extreme behaviour of characters (they're either overly pessimistic or optimistic)
The forced-romantic equation between Good Sam and Kate
Good Sam is essentially a feel-good drama, but there are no forced cinematic liberties or fluffy material to merely showcase the generosity of a character. The film drives home a message about how selfless acts of kindness can indeed bring about a better society. It makes us believe in the fact that humans can help someone without expecting anything in return. Though the idea seems too optimistic for a film premise, there's utmost sincerity in the way the director tells her story. This is evident in the transformation of the journalist's character, the traces of pessimism in her disappear gradually over the course of the narrative. The romantic angle between the journalist and Good Sam is something that the film could have done away with. Yet, in only 90 minutes, the film manages to create a profound impact.
Icing on the cake: A feel-good drama about the need for selflessness