×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Goodbye

A young female lawyer barred from practicing decides to leave Iran no matter what the cost in writer-director Mohammad Rasoulof's slow-burning realist drama "Goodbye."

With:
With: Leyla Zareh, Fereshteh Sadreorafai, Shahab Hoseini, Roya Teymorian.

A young female lawyer barred from practicing decides to leave Iran no matter what the cost in writer-director Mohammad Rasoulof’s slow-burning realist drama “Goodbye.” Winner of director kudos in the Cannes fest’s Un Certain Regard section, the brave but challenging pic offers a quietly devastating critique of contempo Iran that many will read as a personal response to Rasoulof’s recent legal troubles with the government. While unlikely to screen on home turf under the current regime, fest and niche arthouse play can be expected in most other territories.

As reported in Variety, Rasoulof and fellow helmer and frequent collaborator Jafar Panahi were arrested in the summer of 2009, and later convicted of filming without permission. While Panahi has been prohibited from making a movie for 20 years, Rasoulof received state permission to direct a new feature. Although both were sentenced to prison, the sentence has yet to be executed. While their cases are being appealed, they are banned from leaving the country, but can come and go freely from their homes.

Unlike Rasoulof’s two previous features, “Iron Island” and “White Meadows,” both sharp-edged allegories set in unspecified time periods in scenic locales far from an urban center, “Goodbye” unfolds in the here-and-now of a cold, unsmiling Tehran where despair and anxiety reign, newspapers are closed down and activists executed. Here, narrative information is meted out in bits and pieces, keeping viewers as off-balance as the beleaguered central character — the director’s first time featuring a female protagonist — and forcing them to pay close attention.

Unable to work at her profession for reasons left unspecified, Noora (Leyla Zareh, terrific) spends her days making the rounds of various government and medical bureaucracies, her desire for quick action and decisive information continually frustrated, often because she is a woman alone. At night she’s so exhausted that she can barely manage to complete the piecework she has taken on in order to earn some money.

Gradually, it becomes clear that her journalist husband has fled some imminent crackdown by the state. Noora, meanwhile, has secretly contracted with a black market agency to obtain visas so they might leave the country. Having followed the agency’s advice to become pregnant, she now faces further agonizing decisions when blood tests reveal she is carrying a Down syndrome child.

One of Rasoulof’s greatest achievements is to convey the utter isolation and powerlessness Noora feels. Forced to lie about her husband’s whereabouts and her intentions, unable to ask for help, she’s trapped in an increasingly fraught nightmare where every knock on the door might mean the loss of liberty, or worse.

One of the most chilling sequences shows Noora trapped in her building’s elevator with two rough looking men from the dreaded secret police. As they rifle through her apartment, her unsuspecting mother prepares tea and a bowl of fruit, a sign of traditional Iranian hospitality.

Lensed sans warm tones in tightly framed close-up, the claustrophobic visuals stress Noora’s separation from any succor and reinforce a “no exit” feel, as does the sophisticated and increasingly ominous sound design. Without being overly insistent, the fine lensing is also sensitive to the energy-sapping realities of being female in today’s Iran.

Goodbye

Iran

Production: A Pretty Pictures release (in France) of a Mohammad Rasoulof production with the support of the Hubert Bals Fund. (International sales: Fortissimo Films, Amsterdam.) Produced by Rasoulof. Executive producers, Rozita Hendijanian, Dariuosh Ebadi. Directed, written by Mohammad Rasoulof.

Crew: Camera (color), Arastoo Givi, editor, Mohamadreza Muini; sound, Hussein Mahdavi. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard), May 16, 2011. Running time: 104 MIN.

Cast: With: Leyla Zareh, Fereshteh Sadreorafai, Shahab Hoseini, Roya Teymorian.

More Scene

  • Ron HowardBreakthrough Prize, Arrivals, NASA Ames

    Ron Howard Talks New Luciano Pavarotti Documentary

    If one is an anomaly, two are a coincidence and three are a trend, then Ron Howard might strictly become a music documentarian after “Pavarotti” hits theaters. The documentary about the world-famous Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti comes on the heels of Howard’s “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week” and “Made in America,” a look at [...]

  • Cara Delevingne poses for photographers upon

    Cara Delevingne to Be Honored With Hero Award at Trevor Project New York Gala

    The Trevor Project will honor Cara Delevingne with the Hero Award at its upcoming TrevorLIVE New York gala. Delevingne has supported The Trevor Project‘s efforts to end LGBTQ youth suicide rates, in addition to using her platform to speak out about mental health issues, women’s rights and animal conservation. On screen, she has acted in [...]

  • Kristen Stewart'JT LeRoy' Film Premiere, Arrivals,

    Kristen Stewart: 'Charlie's Angels' Reboot Is 'Woke' but Still 'Funny and Weird'

    “Charlie’s Angels” has made the jump to 2019. Kristen Stewart, who stars in the Elizabeth Banks-directed reboot as one of the Angels, says the classic ’70s franchise has been updated to modern times without losing its pulpy action. “At one point I think we said it was woke and grounded, and everyone was like, ‘Wait, [...]

  • Robert De Niro

    Robert De Niro Slams Trump Administration at Tribeca Opening Night

    The 18th annual Tribeca Film Festival opened with Roger Ross Williams’ documentary “The Apollo” at the iconic uptown venue which performers and Harlem community members call “home.” “You can feel the history, the echo of the entertainers,” Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Robert De Niro said in a speech before the film. “In this administration, during [...]

  • Lilli Cooper Tootsie

    How the 'Tootsie' Musical Was Updated for the #MeToo Era

    Turning the beloved 1982 comedy “Tootsie” into a 21st century musical already seemed like a challenge when work on the adaptation began back in 2016. Then the #MeToo movement revved up — and the writers knew they couldn’t tell Dorothy’s story for a modern audience without it. “It’s different than it was when the movie [...]

  • Ralph Fiennes attends a special screening

    Ralph Fiennes on Directing Rudolf Nureyev Biopic: 'It's Been a Very, Very Long Road'

    Ralph Fiennes celebrated his latest directorial outing, “The White Crow,” on Monday night in New York City. The Sony Pictures Classics film tells the story of legendary dancer Rudolf Nureyev. “It’s been a very, very long road. We were mad. We were mad to take on this subject of Rudolf Nureyev. Mad. Completely mad,” Fiennes [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content