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The Longest Goodbye – Sundance 2023 Film Review

3 min read

Still Courtesy - Autlook Film Sales

If there was one word to aptly describe the production and eventual release of Ido Mizrahy's The Longest Goodbye, the word in question would be timely. Everything about the film's premise speaks volumes in our current climate. As Sundance gracefully reopens its golden Redford gates, with the festival's subsequent reinstatement of large-scaled social operations; The Longest Goodbye re-tells another tale of solitude during a time of festival reflection. The Longest Goodbye details the lives, routines, and the social aptitudes of a handful of susceptible astronauts. Mizrahy's project is an ode to lockdown — its central theme of isolation snugged cozily in its devastating statistical recount. A gentle lull into the dead of transports the viewer into a new galaxy; a droning unease which is carefully examined through its creative B-Roll applications. Windows and television screens from archival footage are literally isolated; replaced with thematically-adjacent footage to re-contextualise and provide distance between subject and spectator.

Unfortunately, the execution of its post-production VFX lacks realism and defined motive; as the conventional glare and static found in these aforementioned liminal spaces are not featured in their newly composed collage form. Its underdeveloped visual pastiche also elongates the film's gradual launch. The Longest Goodbye's opening twenty minutes only reiterates publicly known information to set the key conflict — a rudimentary and even arguably unnecessary opening act which only supplies an insufficient expositional spark. It isn't until a series of early 2000's screen captures of recorded conversations between an astronaut and her son, that finally reinstates interest with the viewer. What follows is a languid account of various factoids which construct a profound timeline of engrossing statements. From Chile's infamous mine disaster to virtual reality research, The Longest Goodbye expands the realm of mental health awareness with various accounts of recent scientific developments. The film also fits restfully with other recent stories released in feature-form as of late. Comparisons to Stéphane Lafleur's Viking are in order, as both The Longest Goodbye & the hit Quebecois dramedy perfectly translate the dangers of Earth-bound simulations with engrossing critical analysis. 

Still Courtesy – Autlook Film Sales

The interviews conducted are enlightening — timeless documents which insinuate an interactive internal-dialogue between the viewer's own experience and their sympathy towards the subject's experiences. However, if empathy is the instigator for Mizrahy's success; one could even argue that the film's lack of an anthropological backbone is sorely missing from the film's grandiose portrait of human contact. Stories of diverse social-integration are also applicable to the project's subject matter. From immigration to assimilation, the diaspora which affects millions of individuals worldwide are applicable to Mizrahy's central thesis on lockdown and solitude. Other supporting factors could have been explored to create a more enticing paradigm between the Astronauts' plight and the spectator's own experiences. 

As it stands, the creative applications at the crux of Mizrahy's film fails to fully connect. His storytelling approach is limiting. His direction sporadically examines Earth-bound stories of human isolation with minor interest. The Longest Goodbye carefully plants a seed for its roots to expand beyond the limits of its astronomical subject matter. However, it's the lack of divergent thinking and structural ingenuity that holds the film back from truly engrossing the viewer in its own cosmic malaise. The Longest Goodbye is ultimately a about humanity's troubling social struggles in the face of tumultuous lockdown. At its present stage, the film works most effectively when it studies the behavioural characteristics of the film's protagonists and their relatable desire for social-integration. While admirable in its formalist footsteps, The Longest Goodbye ultimately alienates its viewer by persisting intellectual thought over the universality of human emotion; sacrificing plentiful potential for the safety of familiar, narrative territory. 

Still Courtesy – Autlook Film Sales
The Longest Goodbye premiered at this year's , as part of the ‘World Cinema Documentary' competition. The film is currently seeking international distribution.