I’m starting to believe there are two transitions we go through into adulthood, and I discovered this thanks to film. The first is the most obvious. During adolescence, our bodies go through a biological transformation. But long after the physical… years later… do we finally find the independence bestowed upon us as adults. In Nicola Rose’s feature film, Goodbye, Petrushka, we follow a young woman’s awkward journey into being an adult and finding love in the process.
Claire (Lizzie Kehoe) is a college student who finds herself at a crossroads in life. She’s essentially being bullied in her playwriting class by her teacher and classmates and not given a chance to come into her own. Angry and depressed, Claire bumps into Thibaut (Thomas Vieljeux), a champion ice skater from France who was just forced to retire by some administrator. Claire thinks there’s a spark between her and Thibaut, but he disappears in a flash.
Frustrated to no end, Claire’s best friend, Julia (Casey Landman), tempts her to move with Julia to France for a fresh start. Then, maybe if the stars align, she’ll run into Thibaut. So, the plan is simple: move to France, work as an Au Pair, meet Julia’s famous puppeteer aunt to help her with her puppet play masterpiece, and maybe fall in love.
Though Goodbye, Petrushka is set up to be a Parisian romance, Nicola Rose’s story is more about Claire’s coming of age. When the protagonist thought she had left all her problems in America, she found they followed her to a new country. In Paris, she’s demoralized and bullied again by the parents of the children she watches. She then meets a French man with whom she gives her virginity during a storybook romance. Then, of course, she runs into Thibaut, who barely remembers her and is in a relationship with another woman.
“…move to France, work as an Au Pair…and maybe fall in love.”
Claire opens her heart to Thibaut through the puppet show she’s producing called Goodbye, Petrushka. She wants Thibaut to find the passion he once had for ice skating by giving him a part in her play. In turn, Claire uses that passion to inspire his role in her play. Together, can our pair find more than love?
There’s a lot of story going on in Goodbye, Petrushka, and a charm lies beneath it. Much of the film features Claire finally being an adult, finding her true purpose in life, and navigating a very complicated relationship while pining for Thibaut. For her first leading role, Lizzie Kehoe is excellent and engaging. While she and the cast’s lack of a lengthy acting CV shows through, Rose gets good performances from her inexperienced actors.
There’s an interesting storytelling device that the director uses that might interest indie filmmakers on a meager budget. As we know, Thibaut is a figure skater, and instead of showing world champion-level ice skating, these sequences are animated and used as dream sequences throughout the story.
Goodbye, Petrushka is a heartfelt narrative and very much writer/director Nicola Rose’s story. It’s not a perfect film, but it’s a very personal one.
Goodbye, Petrushka is available on most Video On Demand services. For more information, visit the Goodbye, Petrushka Facebook page.
"…not a perfect film, but it's a very personal one."