Images courtesy of MANIFF
Director: Wayne Roberts
Studios: Parallell Cinema and Relic Pictures
Starring: Olivia Cooke and Christopher Abbot.
Starring Me and Earl and the Dying Girl star Olivia Cooke, Katie Says Goodbye is a hidden gem of independent cinema. Katie is a waitress who prostitutes herself so she can pursue her dream of moving to San Francisco. Living in a trailer park with her troubled mother, she falls in love with the stoic ex-con Bruno, a mechanic who wants to stay out of trouble. Katie’s warm-hearted temperament is put to the test as she pursues her unlikely romance, much to the chagrin of her former clients.
Katie Says Goodbye deals with highly sensitive material and depicts acts such as prostitution in a way that is distinctive; she feels no shame or remorse and treats her clients with pleasant politeness and respect, which is reciprocated for the most part. Prostitution, to Katie, is a simple business transaction and she is surprised to find it bothers her boyfriend Bruno. Bruno, contrastingly to the extremely approachable Katie, is an enigma of a character. We never really learn of his true feelings towards Katie and much of his personality is revealed through incredibly subtle acting, perfected by Christopher Abbott.
Cooke’s performance as the almost saintly Katie is notable and is a definite highlight of the film. The British actress was born in Oldham, Manchester, not far from where MANIFF film festival was taking place. She took part in a Q&A after the film which provided fascinating insight into her thoughts around her character and her acting process. She says first time director and writer Wayne Roberts gave her masses of information about her character, from her character’s birth up until when the film takes place. She remarked that many people walked out of the world premiere in Toronto in retaliation to the particularly distressing rape scene, adding that she was worried Katie would be seen as too passive, an issue picked up by many critics. She was however happy with how her character turned out, and loved the film as a result, adding that she was disappointed that more people won’t get to see it.
Cooke’s disappointment is understandable; the film is a must see. Female-led dramas are much too sparse in cinema, particularly ones that delve into such sensitive subjects with an open mind as well as a sense of understanding and sympathy. The stunning backdrop of the vast, empty deserts of New Mexico makes for beautiful cinematography (Paula Huidobro) and the subtle yet outstanding performances of Cooke and the rest of the cast make for fascinating and heart-wrenching watching.
We teamed up with Humanity Hallows to bring you complete coverage of the Manchester International Film Festival. You can view the full list of reviews which is being updated as we post new content here.