Ok, where to start with this one?
If you only read this far then take this away, WATCH THIS FILM!
Just Say Goodbye is everything I love about watching and reviewing independent films. It’s so easy to forget that Just Say Goodbye is a no budget film and, though I am sure it will have had its restrictions simply because of a lock of budget, at no point does it feel like a film shot on limited funds. Instead, Just Say Goodbye takes you through a compelling, emotional rollercoaster of a journey that is utterly enthralling to watch.
When I traditionally think of no budget films I think of films that have bad audio with hard to hear dialogue, a non existent score, a poor attempt at a story and poor visuals combined with wooden acting although the odd gem can appear. Well this is one of those gems, in every way! Let me expand.
The audio is great. At no point was I wishing there were subtitles so I could understand what was being said and the sound mixing is done very well without interrupting your experience. I can only congratulate the team on a job well done here as immediately there is a sense of professionalism with this movie because of this. Then there is the original score composed by Diana Jeffery and Joshua Kaster which simply compliments the great images on screen perfectly. I look forward to hearing other scores from these two. The final song during the credits is beautiful too, a great choice for this film.
Jeff Simons as DOP creates a beautifully visual world worthy of being on the big screen. His steady shots and fantastic on screen compositions flow through this film as if it were carrying a multi-million pound budget. Each shot is brilliantly edited together to create a lovely pace and emotion through out this story.
This film does not have a huge number of characters in it nor does it need to but each character is played very well by its respective actor. From the recluse and sulking father Rick played by William “Bill” Galatis through to the coolness of Sarah’s mum played by Pamela Morgan and the jealousy of the school bully Chase played by Jesse Walters, all delivered good, strong supporting roles. Then there are the lead characters of Jesse and Sarah played by Max MacKenzie and Katerina Eichenberger respectively. These two have a great on screen chemistry that really delivers during the climactic scenes of this production. You strongly believe in the both of them and want to support their success together. Each delivers a depth and naturalness to their characters that is seldom seen in such productions. Hats off to both of you, I will happily be watching your continued futures on-screen as they continue to unfold.
Then there is the story of Just Say Goodbye written by Layla O’Shea. Before any magic can happen on screen it is absolutely imperative that you have a good story. This carries even more weight when you are unable to hide behind multi million dollar budgets or expansive VFX and fancy editing. What Layla delivers is remarkable. A hugely poignant story about an exceptionally difficult subject that is buried in such a realism and depth that I can only assume it must have some sort of personal connection to her. If not, bravo, a thousand times bravo, I believed every second of this story and its characters. By the end of the emotional powerhouse that is Just Say Goodbye, I honestly had no idea which route the story was going to take. I was invested, compelled and willing it to go one way and not the other and yes, I even shed a tear or two during its climax, I have no shame in admitting to that. The film is not fast paced but rather a slow burner that grows into its characters depths and hidden nuances and allows you to form attachments to each of them and their histories. Indeed, it is this depth and history that leads them down this path to this volatile situation and masterfully dictates how each person handles this difficult situation.
Lastly I want to put a spotlight onto Matt Walting the Director of this masterpiece. This is a Director I will absolutely continue to watch and hopefully one day get the privilege to work alongside. Matts work has created a film that packs a solid punch considering its small size. It felt every bit like a more expensive production. Matt has skilfully worked with his actors to clearly create characters that are more than just your stereotypical people and has evidently created an artistic environment that helps each deliver the chemistry and best performances needed on screen. His work to focus on the on screen impact and emotions, ensuring that he has the right balance of every element in the finished article, is evident in every shot. Matt has clearly worked diligently and faithfully to create a film that he can be truly proud of. This young director reminds me of a certain Mr Spielberg with the level of natural talent and skill that he demonstrates at such a young age. I only hope he gets the chance to have a career just as good if not better than the esteemed master himself.
In summary, Just Say Goodbye is a masterpiece, elegantly crafted and expertly delivered. I strongly implore you to watch this film and enjoy it for what it is, a no budget masterpiece.
Thank you for giving me the privilege of watching your hard work, I enjoyed every second!