Good Boy, an expertly performed drama written and directed by Oran Franco, isn’t an exactly an easy film to write-about. For one, revealing the premise essentially ruins the film. Granted, we live in a spoiler culture and I’m assuming if you’re reading this you might have already watched the short, but still, it’s something that I’m especially cognizant of in regards to this particular piece. Keeping things general, Franco’s film, at its core, is about how far one will go for someone he/she loves. In this case, those limits are explored in the relationship between a mother and her son.
Franco elaborates upon his reasons for making the film: “I suppose the idea for the film came to me quite gradually, as a culmination of thoughts and ideas around the subject of freedom of choice and I felt that there were questions I wanted to explore. It’s interesting how the act of filmmaking can really be a form of therapy—an inward journey and exploration of the self.”
But, let’s get into it, shall we? This is a film about voluntary euthanasia—a charged issue that has been politicized and discussed quite a bit in the mainstream media. However, very rarely is the issue approached with compassion. The exact opposite is true with Good Boy. The film is subtle and incredibly human in its exploration of the topic. It’s also surprisingly tense as things develop. The scene in the veterinarian’s office is masterfully executed. As viewers, we wonder how far the protagonist is willing to go to give his mother what she wants? And, in effect, we are forced to ask ourselves a similar question: how far would we be willing to go if put in the same situation?
Franco elaborates further: “I was very careful not to push an agenda as I know how deeply divisive this subject is. This does not mean that I do not have an opinion on the matter, but I became increasingly aware that the discussion around euthanasia, especially in the political arena seemed to exist as some elevated philosophical construct and that people were losing touch with the humanity of it all.”
Coming in at a patiently constructed 18-minutes, we realize this isn’t a short that is tailor-made for the internet. But, overall, we found Franco’s sense of directorial craft too hard to deny. The film is also bolstered by an incredibly strong central performance from actor Simon King. He says so much without physically saying much at all—his expressions and body language all convey his eternal struggle.
Good Boy was Franco’s graduating film at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) in Australia. Franco has since moved to the United States, where he is working on a variety of projects, including a feature screenplay that explores masculinity and the nature of being a man in modern society. It’s another “hot-button” issue, but if Good Boy is a representative example, it’s one that we know Franco can explore with nuance and compassion.