Det Gode Liv
Denmark, 2010, 87 min
“We’ve always had what we needed, and then some. And now we don’t have anything.” Such is the predicament of Mette Beckmann and her middle-aged daughter Anne, two women suddenly facing an unfamiliar nemesis—poverty—in this compelling and timely documentary by Eva Mulvad. Against the picturesque backdrop of a Portuguese resort town, The Good Life chronicles Mette and Anne’s reluctance to surrender the opulent lifestyle they have enjoyed for decades far south of their native Denmark. While the elderly and pragmatic Mette makes feeble attempts to ensure the pair’s survival, her entitled daughter desperately clings to delusions of their family’s former grandeur. Bitterly lamenting a present reality for which she feels unprepared, Anne assuages the harsh challenges of adult life with frequent sunbathing, the frivolous pursuit of material objects and a particularly virulent strain of naïveté. The quotidian struggles of this tragic and often entertaining duo are thoughtfully juxtaposed with the overwhelming beauty of Portugal’s coast. With a film that unapologetically parallels Albert and David Maysles’ 1975 classic Grey Gardens, Mulvad not only crafts an engaging narrative but also highlights a series of issues increasingly at the forefront of modern society. As the world prepares to face the consequences of widespread irresponsibility—both financial and otherwise—many people find themselves in situations not unlike that of Anne and Mette. Mulvad’s memorable protagonists point to the uncertainty of the human condition and offer a glimpse into a fate from which none of us is necessarily exempt.
In English, Danish, Portuguese and French with subtitles. GGA Documentary Feature Contender.