As I was watching How To Say Goodbye, I kept thinking that exploring the lives of average people just rarely ever feels cinematic enough to put on the big screen. I’ll admit this is an arguable point, and I could merely be a personal preference. Frank Song’s story of four New Yorkers was fun to watch. The plight of each of his characters is relatable and familiar and comes to a standard resolution.
I think the problem is the film’s stakes are not high enough. When the stakes of a movie relationship live at my level, the movie feels too comfortable. I’m thinking about how Tom should do “this.” Claire should do “that.” It all leads to a conclusion that is all too familiar. Not saying this is wrong. Seeing broken adults become healthy adults is a good thing to portray onscreen. But when the stakes are high to the point that I can’t solve the problem myself, then you’ve grabbed my attention, and I’m trying to figure out a solution. Which brings me back to my original thought: “Is this cinematic enough?” I’d have to say no.
“…Logan Rose Nelms as Claire absolutely shines by creating a likable character…”
Another weakness of How To Say Goodbye is the acting. The acting felt scripted throughout the film. By scripted, I mean, it felt like actors were reciting lines from a script when they needed to integrate their dialogue into their characters. It needs to feel conversational on screen. It needs to feel natural to that character. I would say of the four Logan Rose Nelms as Claire absolutely shines by creating a likable character, and you’re right there with her as she tries to “slap” some sense into Tom.
How To Say Goodbye is Frank Song’s first outing as a writer/director/lead actor. He produced an excellent story with a good foundation creating four well-defined characters, all with distinct arcs, even if it has the film-school vibe. The story just barely crosses the line and is worth recommending to audiences looking for a relationship drama to rent. Now that he’s written a solid film school script, here’s his chance to push boundaries in the next one.
"…the plight of each of his characters is relatable and familiar..."