Sarah slashes down the days to her summer vacation trip with all the gusto of Zorro and his infamous ‘Z’, until she discovers her best friend’s plot to end his life while she’s away.
Genre : Drama
Country : USA
Katerina Eichenberger : Sarah
Max MacKenzie : Jesse
William Galatis : Rick
My opinion on “Just say goodbye”
“That was the first of hundreds of conversations between us.
Most came easy. And some a little harder.
And one would change my life forever”
It’s not necessary to have a bunch of overwhelming special effects to make a great film. Or well-paid world-famous movie stars to embellish the whole. Or an intriguing story with a magisterial end. Sometimes there are films where the message leaves an overwhelming impression. As in “Just say goodbye“. Even though you clearly notice at the beginning it’s a low-budget film, it convinces after a certain amount of time. Personally, I have never known anyone who’s in a similar situation as Jesse (Max McKenzie). Jesse’s youth can hardly be called rosy. First of all, there’s his mother who commited suicide. And then there is Jesse’s father (William Galatis). A hateful person with a drinking problem who’s constantly reminded of the incident when he looks at his son. In addition, there’s also the constant bullying at school. All this ensures that Jesse has a fairly fatalistic view at life. The only positive thing in his life is Sarah (Katerina Eichenberger). A friend who looks forward to a holiday and marks the days on her calendar dayly. She doesn’t realize that Jesse is also counting down to another climax in his life.
The facts about suicide are horrifying.
“Just say goodbye” deals with a sensitive topic. The fact that we live in a narcissistic society, where individuals become more and more isolated and alienated from their environment, it’s important to draw attention to this. For many who are fortunate enough to be in a situation where the outlook is more positive, this will generate an I-really-don’t-care feeling. Until the moment that fate strikes in their immediate environment. And more than once the remark will be made they didn’t see this one coming. And also that they didn’t think the person in question would be able to carry out this act of desperation. I think when it comes to suicide among teenagers, we are at one minute to midnight. When googling about this subject, you find some disturbing facts. In most countries it’s even the number one cause of death and one speaks of three suicides per day. To talk about it with young people is essential. And it’s films like “Just say goodbye” that are a perfect tool for this.
It’s not a happy let’s-have-some-fun movie.
“Just say goodbye” broaches this topic in a serene way. There was no unnecessary use of sensational imagery. In a truthful way it showed on the one hand the defeatism of someone who no longer seeks a way out and no longer has the will to live. The despondency is constantly present. On the other hand, there’s the struggle of a good friend to turn the tide and who’s willing to do anything just to show this person that life also has its good sides. Even offering herself in a sexual way is one of her attempts. It’s not a joyfull film. Far from.
Low budget, high quality result.
Even though I knew it was an Indie low-budget film (it was made with a limited budget of about $13K) and certainly didn’t expect to see some impressive visual material and acting from the top shelf, I had to admit that it actually all looked professional (even though the second cameraman caused ripples in the water, so I could already guess from where the next shot would be taken). The acting of both Max McKenzie and Katerina Eichenberger felt genuine and credible. The two perfectly complemented each other. Two good friends who cared about each other and had their romantic moments. Without any doubt it’s the most admirable part of the film, even though the interplay wasn’t 100% fluent and felt a bit forced sometimes. Also Jesse Walters as the bully Chase deserves a mention. Even though he’s a textbook case of an average bully which can be found in every school. A pampered teenager who, thanks to his wealthy parents, gets everything and treats others in a patronizing way. He’s that kind of person I utterly hate and preferably would like to pull through a heavy plate mill. The rest of the cast consists mainly of adults who, in my eyes, didn’t have a central role to play. Which is also obvious, given the subject.
Don’t ignore obvious signals of despair.
There were a few minor flaws in my opinion. For example, I thought Sarah’s plea to Chase, to cut Jesse some slack, was rather short-sighted. As an intellectual and compassionate girl she should know that this would only have a counterproductive effect. The additional storyline about Chase I found quite far-fetched and superfluous. The only use it had, was to give an explanation for the suicide of Jesse’s mother. But apart from that, this film still left an impression. Not only do we see how desperate those are who are out of touch with their environment and want to give up. But also the despair of those who stay behind is noticeable. A clear signal to parents not to ignore signals from their children. “Just say goodbye” is a film with a sensitive subject, leaving a crushing impression. And finally I think it takes courage to make such a film.
My rating 7/10
Links : IMDB
The Zone Of Interest Is A Bleak Reminder of the Horrors of Holocaust
The Zone of Interest is Jonathan Glazer’s latest feature loosely based on Martin Amis’ novel of the same name. It stars Christian Friedel and Sandra Huller in the lead roles. The German-language feature was a major breakout from the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, where it also won the Grand Prix award. It is based around one of the darkest chapters in human history and serves as an important reminder of how brutal and evil humans are capable of being.
Glazer is known for having carefully crafted frames with plenty of nuances which is the case here as well. He intricately designs each and every scene for maximum impact. Before we enter the first scene, the screen fades to black with a chilling score in the background that sets the viewer up for everything they are about to witness. Black is also the colour of evil which hints at what aspects of human nature this story will explore. The cinematography is also top-notch. The use of natural lighting works really well to complement the setting of a warm family atmosphere. Also, there are a few moments where the visual style changes and those scenes are thoughtfully captured as well.
Christian Friedel and Sandra Huller are both fantastic in their roles. Friedel is absolutely convincing as Rudolph Hoss, the commander of the Auschwitz concentration camps, and Huller plays his wife Hedwig, who steals a lot of scenes with her emotional range. The editing is also careful and patient. Each scene gets time to breathe and settle properly resulting in a lot of extended scenes of the daily life of the family. The background music is minimal, but whenever it kicks in, it makes sure to elevate the scenes with creepy and ominous sounds.
The plot may seem basic and simple on the surface level, but we gradually see the layers unfold as the narrative moves forward. The story gets darker and darker with time and can be utterly shocking and horrifying at times, especially in the third act. It is no doubt a slow burn In terms of its pacing and takes its own time to set things up and we keep getting to see more sides of the characters in the second half of the movie.
It is utterly shocking how a family man who reads his children bedtime stories and loves his wife wholeheartedly can do the things that Rudolph Hoss does. But that level of brutality and faithfulness to reality is among its biggest strengths. The movie doesn’t have too many weak aspects, but it is slow and takes a while to get going. Also, it will turn out to be difficult to follow or comprehend for general audiences and it might be difficult to follow for some. It demands patience and attention.
The Zone of Interest is a kind of movie that subtly and slowly horrifies you with its brutal and harrowing storytelling. Jonathan Glazer is at the top of his game. The lead performances are top notch and the conclusion leaves a heavy impact on the viewer. It won’t work for everyone, but will certainly find the appreciation it deserves.
The Zone of Interest will release in cinemas on December 8.
‘Past Lives’ Review: A Transcendent Cinematic Journey
Hollywood has a knack for producing extraordinary movies year after year, but there comes a time when the industry exceeds all expectations with a gem of a movie like ‘Past Lives.’ A mesmerizing film directed by the talented Celine Song takes audiences on an unparalleled journey of self-discovery and the exploration of our interconnectedness through time. This thought-provoking movie connects various lives, blurring the boundaries of reality and immersing viewers in a transcendental tale.
The romantic drama showcases Song’s remarkable storytelling ability, presenting a narrative that delicately balances emotion and intellect. ‘Past Lives’ starts with Hae Sung (Teo Yoo), Nora (Greta Lee), and Arthur (John Magaro) sitting at a bar. An unseen couple watches and tries to guess their relationship. We are taken back in time and get all the vital details about the relationship they have been sharing throughout various parts of their lives. One of the best aspects of the movie is how Son interconnects the lives of diverse characters across different periods and unveils the secrets that bind them together. The film’s nonlinear structure allows for a gripping exploration of multiple storylines, ensuring an engaging and enthralling experience.
Visually, ‘Past Lives’ is an absolute feast for the eyes. The poignant visuals heighten the emotional resonance of the narrative, leaving a lasting impression on the viewer. Accompanying the stunning visuals and sound design is an enchanting score that perfectly complements the film’s ethereal quality. Beyond its visual and musical splendor, the movie invites viewers to contemplate profound themes and philosophical questions. The film raises thought-provoking inquiries about the nature of existence, the way people’s lives are connected, and the impact of our actions across time. The script forces the moviegoers to reflect on the concept of destiny, choices, and the ripple effects they create.
Furthermore, the performances in ‘Past Lives’ are nothing short of extraordinary. The ensemble cast, led by seasoned actors, delivers nuanced and heartfelt portrayals, breathing life into their respective characters. Greta Lee is enchanting as Nora and delivers a performance that is undoubtedly going to give her all the buzz during the awards season. Meanwhile, Teo Yoo is just as brilliant. The talent on display evokes genuine empathy, enhancing the overall experience.
Even though the awards season is far away from where we are, we have already got a strong contender for Best Picture and top acting categories in the form of ‘Past Lives.’ It is quite rare these days to see a romantic story that provides such an immersive experience and we are glad that Celine Song’s film has given us a movie that makes us wonder why such romantic movies are not made anymore.
‘Past Lives’ is a modern masterpiece.
A Kind of Kidnapping – Dark Comedy with Politics
Written and directed by Dan Clark, this fairly star studded independent film follows a young couple who are stuck in a financial situation, and decide to kidnap a sleazy conservative politician in order to receive a ransom, that will allow them to escape their static lives.
Patrick Baladi (The Office) plays Hardy our creepy politician, Kelly Wenham (Double Date) plays Maggie, a complex woman who seemingly is always drawn to the “bad boy”, Jack Parry-Jones (The Crown) plays Brian our voice of reason within all of this, or is he?
The character development is well written and allows the space for character arcs, unlike a lot of small films, where there isn’t that room in the script. The three main leads feel very grounded and familiar, everyone knows someone like this in their life or perhaps public figures in the media.
The performances of the main three lead actors are great, if it wasn’t for them, I don’t think this film would work as well. Alongside the strong performances, the editing of the film helped to navigate this non-linear plot and allowed the film to peel aways the layers of backstory which all helped to create a stronger character driven piece.
As the film was nearing the final act, it felt as though it was dragging a little. Dan Clark mentioned in the Q&A after the screening how this was a short film before and I can definitely see how it could work in a confined setting really well. Maybe there was a bit of padding in second to third act to reach that feautre length requirement that didn’t aid certain character moments.
If you want to hear my full thoughts, the best thing to do is check out my review over on YouTube and let me know your thoughts in the comments.
When independent film is fighting for its life, A Kind of Kidnapping is the light in the dark. This is one of the better British produced indie films I’ve seen in a long time.
A Kind of Kidnapping is out on digital on 24th July on iTunes, Amazon, Google and Sky.
This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the [series/movie/etc] being covered here wouldn’t exist.
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