Opening with the ominous declaration that David Reighton (Cavan Clerkin) went missing in early 2009, and his disappearance has never been resolved, Pascal Bergamin’s Nice Guy sets the stage for a tragedy. Which is exactly what happens, as the events leading up to David’s disappearance play out in increasingly devastating fashion. No matter where you think the film could go, that opening is always there to remind you that, when all is said and done, David will not be around any more.
Which is unfortunate for the stay-at-home dad, no matter how strained his home life has become as he spends his days watching over his son Ray (Kiko-Ray Clerkin) while his wife Hanna (Abigail Blackmore) works, earning all the money. Feeling worthless at home, David’s only fun seems to come from his evenings hanging out at the local strip club and bar, where he unfortunately rekindles a friendship with Ronnie (Martin Askew), whose life has taken a more criminal turn. Still, when David wants to move onto Ronnie’s side of the fence to earn some cash, Ronnie dissuades him. It’s only when David stumbles upon crime boss Evans (Doug Allen) murdering a stripper in the back room of the club that David’s life truly becomes screwed.
Evans and company catch David’s prying eyes, and quickly frame him for the murder. With leverage over David, the gang decides to use our hero as an errand boy of sorts. For one job, maybe he’s an enforcer. For the next, maybe he’s a mule. Regardless, David is theirs, and only a truly tragic turn of events will make it any different.
As the film rolls along, David just becomes one of those characters that attracts nothing but trouble. The worst part is, he not only attracts it, to a certain extent it seems that he’s just getting exactly what he wanted. All of a sudden his life has meaning and is full of intrigue, even if the situation isn’t the cleanest. Isn’t this what he was going for when he asked Ronnie to introduce him to the underworld? Seems like some wishes, when made, are too horrible not to be granted.
Nice Guy is a strong film, with powerful performances and a story that drives ever forward. It truly is a testament to the actors that the film stays as engaging as it is even when, again, we all know how this is going to end up. Cavan Clerkin’s David stays likeable and sympathetic even as he becomes more and more doomed, Martin Askew’s Ronnie is equal parts loyal friend and slimey scumbag and Abigail Blackmore’s Hanna is a woman who has run her course with how her life currently is, and she wants some sort of change.
At the end of the day, what’s the moral of the story here? Stay away from strip clubs? Mind your own business? Get a job? Communicate with your spouse better? I don’t know if anything would’ve truly made a difference. There are no illusions in or about Nice Guy; it lets you know from the jump what you’re in for, and then delivers in high-quality fashion.
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