If ever there was a wake-up call of a film, it is in Aneil Karia’s The Long Goodbye, a stark and harrowing film that jolts you so quickly and violently that it leaves you sitting in a pure shock.
Riz and his family are preparing for a wedding celebration, a time of happiness when darkness has fallen upon the country as riots and anger fill the streets.
Nothing quite prepares you for what happens in The Long Goodbye; for almost half of the 11-minute runtime, we are in the presence of a happy moment for a family, one of their own is to be married. The general bustle of organising the celebration is underway; girls gossip and laugh as they prepare each other while Riz and young Naz are practising a dance. All is well in this household, and you can’t help but smile.
However, on the TV, a darkness is present in their country, black plumes of smoke rise from buildings and violence are around, maybe not in this sleepy neighbourhood, but close enough. For all the happiness going on in that home, there is a slight tension between father and son; the father wants to see what is happening on the television to be updated. Yet Riz states that it is 24/7, maybe meaning both the rotation of the news and the events that are being reported. From that moment, you sense all will not play out as well as you would expect that something is going to happen. When it does, it is blistering and visceral; Karia leaves you like the family, in shock, frozen on what you are witnessing and experiencing.
What grabs you is how close this type of dystopian nightmare could be. If a couple of decades of the wrong type of people are in charge of a country, then the future would be greatly dimmed for those in the film. But also, has the ball already begun to roll? The anger between right-leaning people to immigrants or even people who have been born and raised in the UK has been rising steadily for some time now. The Long Goodbye is both a warning shot of what our country could become and also a clear message regarding the ever-present fear that people we would class as friends, colleagues, neighbours, even family have. They do not feel wanted by the greater society, in their own country or even in one that has taken them in, to save them.
That is a harrowing and unimaginable feeling to have; to have that fear of even if you and generations of your family have contributed something to this country that a broken system that allows hatred to grow could wipe that out in mere seconds. Exemplified by Riz stating to his family, “they have come”. This isn’t a random act; this is premeditated and hints that this is not just some extremists causing this destruction, but perhaps something more powerful, more horrific, and then just for good measure, there is a short shot to confirm our worst fears.
Karia’s camera roams around as if in a documentary as we bear witness to everything. Co-writer and star Riz Ahmed electrifies as a man who knew this day would come, but hoped it never would. The fear and panic from him and the rest of the cast breaks you, you feel their fear because they are simply letting out what they believe.
Somehow everything on screen is conveyed in 11 minutes, an astounding feat of filmmaking and one that shows how strong and crucial the short form of filmmaking is. Would you watch a feature version of this film? Sure, but it would lose its bite and importance by being so long. Keeping it as short as it is, it tackles you to look within yourself and want to try and make this place better for the people not in the future but for those around you now.
There isn’t much else to say about The Long Goodbye, just watch it and let it sink in.
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