Suicide is not something we traditionally talk about as a society but it’s a subject which we’re just beginning to publicly address. Taking your own life accounts for the tragic loss of almost a million people around the world each year. In America, the suicide rate has gone up by over 30% in the last decade and is the second leading cause of death of young people aged between 15 to 24. It’s a social issue which Matt Walting addresses in his powerful debut film, Just Say Goodbye.
When Jesse Peterson’s (Max MacKenzie) mother killed herself, his father (William Galatis) reacts by hitting the bottle and taking it out on his young son. Now sixteen, that abuse still continues; almost a decade later. Meanwhile, at school he’s constantly tormented by a popular rich kid, Chase (Jesse Walters), and his friends. Jesse’s only solace, and friend, is Sarah (Katerina Eichenberger), who is constantly by his side. However, there’s only so much someone can take and he decides to make a life-changing decision.
Given the microscopic budget involved, Just Say Goodbye is an impressive achievement. It looks and feels like a film made by someone with much more experience and financial backing. There are clunky moments, as you’d probably expect, both in the acting and with the dialogue but for the most part the drama runs smoothly. Both MacKenzie and Eichenberger are excellent and it’s the relationship between these characters which shines through. Walting manages to achieve something I’ve not experienced before. Just Say Goodbye talks about, and addresses, suicide in a way which resonated with me.
Just Say Goodbye is out in US cinemas on 10 May.