2.5 out of 5 stars (Decent)
Just Say Goodbye is about teen suicide. Thank you to producer and screenwriter Layla O’Shea and director/producer Matt Walting for reaching out to me for this review. I am excluding the spoilery trailer.
Just Say Goodbye is a mixed bag. It’s a well-acted drama about teen suicide prevention whose effectiveness is slightly lessened by an uneven balance of realism and dramatization. That said, in a media landscape where explorations of this topic range from blatantly offensive (13 Reasons Why) and potentially effective, Just Say Goodbye thankfully lands in the latter category.
Teen Jesse (Max Mackenzie, TV’s Hunters) has had a hard life. His father Rick (William “Bill” Galatis) fell to alcoholism and began abusing him after his wife killed herself, while town rich kid Chase (Jesse Walters) bullies him daily. The only bright spot in his life is childhood best friend Sarah (Katerina Eichenberger) from whom he has hidden the more painful parts of his existence. One day, he informs Sarah of these details, as well as his intention to take his life, sending her into a panic to try and save her friend before it’s too late.
Just Say Goodbye has many hills and valleys. Eichenberger and Mackenzie’s friendly chemistry is initially forced, but they excel in the dramatic scenes and benefit from authentic dialogue. Unfortunately, the other characters feel like after-school-special archetypes until a soap-operaesque reveal adds unexpected depth. The editing and direction are solid and the film’s relatively small budget only shows in isolated audio problems. The characters’ actions and nonactions will frustrate some (myself included), but I applaud the filmmakers for not oversimplifying a complex problem.
Just Say Goodbye is an uneven yet well-acted drama with good performances that should aid in the discussion and handling of its subject. This is not a how-to guide for approaching and dealing with suicidal individuals, but it’s a solid base hit. Stream it on Amazon Prime now.
Likely would be Rated R for Some Language and Brief Sexual Content