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Goodnight and Goodbye (2021) Short Film Review

Updated: Jul 1, 2021


Directed by: #ElijahNobleEl

Written by: #ElijahNobleEl


In their third session together, a troubled sex addict seeks help from a therapist for his isolating, self-destructive vices.

Goodnight and Goodbye (2021) is an American short film and is scheduled to be released at the Regina International Film Festival on 10th August. The drama, with a run time of just under fifteen minutes, has already received six awards including Best Short Screenplay at the Festigious International Film Festival and Best Drama Screenplay at the Top Shorts Film Festival.

Nico, a black man with mental health issues, is shown in a blurry close up shot as he cradles the side of his face in one hand in what appears to be despair.
Goodnight and Goodbye (2021) short film poster

The film displays a surreal, dreamlike quality with its idyllic cinematography of rising sunsets and trees outside a bedroom window, alongside hazy white filters and uses of neon purple often incorporated during night sequences. Although the short does sometimes feel rather unfocused and busy on the surface, this also appears to be the intention of director Elijah Noble El, who frames his lead Nico’s isolation and aimless nature through an abstract lens. We see him go about his day, smoking and walking about his city at night as his therapist, Dr. Frederick (Jennings) suggested, whilst listening to the conversation between them and revealing more about Nico’s inner thoughts and struggles with facing life’s challenges of loneliness and depression.

It is certainly a refreshing change to view a film with a clear focus on the mental health of a black man, as traditional masculine values can often overshadow the struggles men face in their lives just like women. El composes a thoughtful, sombre piece which does delve into the complexities of mental health but frames it in a universal way where anyone who has experienced similar issues with expressing themselves openly and addressing their problems can understand and relate to Nico. Interesting and thought-provoking ideas are explored through the dialogue between Dr. Frederick and Nico, however, they do not stop speaking for the full fifteen minutes and it does sometimes feel a little overbearing as much is being shared and expressed in a short amount of time alongside the visuals. This results in feeling like we have to keep up with the flow of the conversation as well as keep track of where we are with the constant changes in the footage.

Bonnie (Bussell) is introduced later on in the short as Nico’s love interest, the woman who grounds him and helps him deal with his suicidal thoughts. Both Bussell and El have received awards for their performances, with Best Duo and Best Actress for Callie, which is impressive given the fact that they do not share any audible dialogue in the film. This does unfortunately detract from the viewer’s attachment to the character and the apparent close relationship between the pair, as any understanding we have of the compassionate Bonnie is only presented through Bussell’s body language and Nico’s flattering words, therefore, the emotional impact may have been greater if we were able to see one scene of the lovers speaking to one another to understand their thoughts and feelings. Despite this issue, Rodriguez Jennings as the therapist delivers a moving monologue encouraging Nico to open up to Bonnie and experience the small pleasures in life like taking her for a drive along the coast and enjoy their time together, which drives the emotionally resonant message home about living every moment in life to the fullest.

Overall, Goodnight and Goodbye presents a compelling introspective character study which explores male mental health effectively. However, its overly abstract direction and lack of development for the romantic relationship between the two leads does reduce the impact of the film’s final message.


Goodnight and Goodbye (2021) Trailer:


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