Based on the original screenplay by Silja Clemens and Stephan Rick, the actor Ross Partridge wrote the screenplay for the new American film – ‘The Good Neighbor’. Directed by Stephan Rick, it is a psychological crime thriller film, streaming on Hulu, that explores a sense of mystery throughout its duration. Starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Luke Kleintank in the lead roles of neighbors, it presents a slow-burn narration that explores the troubling circumstances they fall into together. With a supporting cast of Eloise Smith, Bruce Davison, and Ieva Florence among others, it works upon the themes of regret, guilt, and morality.
The Good Neighbor Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:
The film begins with a man’s body sinking into a waterbody tied to an anchor. From this strange beginning, the narrative shifts to David (Luke Kleintank), an American journalist, who wakes up at an airport. He is moving to Latvia as a part of his job and meets his superior and friend Grant (Bruce Davison). He helps David with his accommodation, work, and other necessary arrangements. His place is close to both the train station and the office, where he is supposed to work. He also hands him over the keys to his car.
Later, David goes to his workplace and gets familiar with his colleagues. At night, when he tries turning on the car, he finds it impossible. So, he walks up to his neighbor’s place, planning to ask for help. Robert (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) opens the door and offers to share gas/fuel to make it start. Since this solution does not work, Robert pops by his garage and offers to help with the repair. He manages to get it started, which makes David think him being a mechanic. Robert denies this claim.
When David decides to take the car out for a drive, Robert tags along. They have a casual chat about their lives and seem to be getting along pretty well. Since he does not know anyone in this new place, he asks Grant whether he will join him for a dinner later. He already has some other plans, which makes David asks Robert if he can come along for a drink. They go to a nearby pub and start drinking. That’s where David comes across Janine (Ieva Florence) and gets instantly gets smitten by him.
During their conversation, David mentions being a journalist and Janine mentions her bicycle when asked about her wristband. They dance together and have a good time, while Robert eyes them from a distance without interrupting them. When she is about to leave, she leaves her number written on David’s arm. After that, David goes back to Robert, and they decide to leave. While driving back home on a pitch-dark night, they have a smoke together, and then try changing the music playing in his car.
While he takes his attention away from the road in front of him, he ends up hitting someone with the car. They get out in complete shock and see a woman lying down with her bicycle. David realizes that it is Janine and gets even more confused about what he should do in this circumstance. While his gut feeling says to call the hospital and the authorities to inform them about his mistake, Robert warns him against doing so. Firstly, he was drunk driving, and she was not breathing afterward. He sees David getting convicted as a result of this for a murder where the evidence will go against him.
Since David looks remorseful, Robert tries to calm him down saying it is not entirely his fault since the lights were not on. They leave the place, making it a case of hit-and-run. The next day, David confronts Robert for not letting him go to the police and indicates that he wants to. Robert implies that it is not just David but also him, who will get caught in case he does that. He resists every urge of David with the same method. Later, he goes to the scene of the crime and sees Janine’s body being taken by an ambulance.
He stops by at a nearby place and meets an old lady who he knows from before. He learns the details she remembers from the previous night. She notes seeing two silhouettes and a car and he understands that she can implicate them in the act. So, when the police knock on his door, he lies to them about her saying that she did not say anything about the accident. Meanwhile, David is conflicted with his feelings of guilt. While his job as a journalist is to uncover the truth, he cannot work on this case. The burden weighs heavy on his conscience.
While he goes to a press conference about Janine’s murder, he meets her sister – Vanessa (Eloise Smyth), who comes there from England to get to the bottom of the case. She asks David to help her with the same when he is left with no other option but to give empty promises. On the other side, David and Robert become more and more distant due to their different viewpoints. David feels that the truth will come out sooner or later, and Robert suggests lying about the night when they left the pub and returned by tram. He also advises claiming his car (that has a bump due to the incident) was stolen, while he sinks into a water body.
During the emotional drift between these two neighbors, Vanessa and David get emotionally closer. Their romantic interest enrages Robert, thinking that it would make it difficult for them to hide their crime. Meanwhile, Grant speaks with David about Robert, who he always considered to be a bit strange. While that opinion impacts his judgment about this neighbor, his violent acts out of jealousy about Vanessa being closer to him, make him despise the person. When the couple decides to go kayaking, he shows up there as a surprise and tries to kill her.
Sometime later, the police officers show up at David’s house when he was with Vanessa. They mention a call by him which he notes to be a mistake. It makes Vanessa realize that he knew Janine from before but did not utter a word about it. While she becomes enraged, he mentions not knowing that he did not know that it was Janine who got killed that day. Her suspicion of David’s involvement gets even bigger when she finds out that he lied about his return journey. While he mentioned returning by tram late at night, the last one is at 10:30 PM.
She then goes back to David’s place to confront him about it. He is not home, and she meets Robert. During their conversation, he realizes that she knows their secret, and he strangles her. When David returns home, Robert welcomes him and shares a tour ticket for him to leave the place for a while. He calls it a friendly gesture, but it ends up making him more frustrated. Right after Robert returns to his place, David calls Vanessa’s number wanting to tell her about her sister. However, Robert, who strangled Vanessa earlier, has her phone and cuts that call. He realizes that David is eventually going to convict himself of the crime.
The Good Neighbor Movie Ending, Explained:
When David goes to his office, a colleague informs him that their meeting is canceled since she could not get hold of Grant on the phone. He goes to Grant’s office, sees a gift basket on his basket, and realizes Robert giving it to him. He rushes out to Vanessa’s place but cannot get in touch with her. That’s when he receives a call from her, and Robert starts speaking. He mentions that she is with him. He mentions planning to take her fishing. So, David realizes Robert’s ill intentions and drives back to his home as fast as he can.
Meanwhile, Robert tells Vanessa that it was he who convinced David that Janine was dead that night and made him run away. The reason why he went through all this trouble is that he saw David as a brother he never had and did not want to lose the bond they had built. By the time David reaches home, Robert already hits her so hard that she dies. While David confronts him, Robert keeps mentioning doing everything for him. He keeps asking for forgiveness when David walks out with a weapon in his hand.
That is when the police show up at this place and arrest David. They convict him in all these crimes and Robert shows himself as an innocent person. The police then tell him that Vanessa’s alive. The police reached there at the time because Robert called them before. So, it was his plan to save himself from conviction. However, upon learning of Vanessa, he realizes that she would tell the truth about him.
When the ambulance takes her away, David overhears her pulse is stable. He smiles taking it as a sign of him being proven not guilty. On the other side, Robert sinks himself in the same lake, tied to the anchor – the same image that we see in the opening shot. Unlike David, who had a conflict of conscience, Robert does not show an iota of remorse, and his psychopathic tendencies are revealed slowly over the period.