By Don R. Lewis | August 7, 2002

Jennifer Aniston in an INDEPENDENT FILM!!!! Call the drama police! Alert your friends! Sound the chic alarm! Ah, how quickly we forget that Aniston starred in indie filmmaker Ed Burns’ “She’s the One,” not to mention “Leprechaun,” which could be considered an indie. The thing is, that while we get the standard Aniston fare weekly on “Friends,” one might forget that she really can act.
This time out she links up with the kooky team of Mike White and Miguel Arteta, writer and director of Chuck and Buck for a look into the life of disenchanted and disinterested small town folk in rural Texas. Aniston really does star as Justine, a bored housewife who escapes the doldrums of home to a crappy job in the local drug store. Aniston was a ballsy pick for the role and her performance is toned down, but not vacant. It’s just right.
While working at “Retail Rodeo,” she meets the new checker, an equally bored and disenchanted kid named Holden Caulfield. Well, really his name is Tom, but nonetheless Justine is intrigued by what she sees in Holden which is a kindred spirit in misery.
A main source of Justine’s misery is her pot head hubby Phil who is played perfect as always by John C. Reilly. He seems perfectly happy to paint houses all day and get stoned all night. Justine wants something better. What that “something better” is never fully fleshes out, but her infatuation with Holden does.
It’s disappointing that the only character trait this films Holden Caulfield shares with the “real” Holden Caulfield is his inability to relate to the modern world and an underlying sadness. C’mon, where’s the red hunting cap at least? However, as Holden and Justine’s relationship intensifies, a strange series of events is set into motion and in the end, Justine finds happiness…or does she?
The ambiguity of this film adds to it’s charm as does scene stealing roles by Zooey Deschanel as Justine’s co-worker Cheryl and scripter White as a bible banging store security guard. “The Good Girl” avoids the same shocking character traits Chuck and Buck had and White and Arteta successfully craft a dream world so dull and painful, we totally understand what Justine must be feeling. While many questions and motivations are left unanswered, overall the film wins out with it’s stark truths and slightly twisted pay off’s along the way.

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