RICHARD SAYS GOODBYE Reviews and Discussion (Spoilers)

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RICHARD SAYS GOODBYE Reviews and Discussion (Spoilers)

Unread post by SnoopyDances » Sat Oct 06, 2018 7:15 pm

From Variety

Saban Films and DirecTV have already secured U.S. rights to the film, which had it world premiere at the Zurich Film Festival; despite some theatrical play, “Richard” will primarily be saying hello to audiences on VOD.

Film Review: ‘Richard Says Goodbye’

Starring Johnny Depp as a professor dying without decorum, Wayne Roberts' dated, awkward tragicomedy is unduly impressed by its own hero.

Director: Wayne Roberts With: Johnny Depp, Rosemarie DeWitt, Odessa Young, Zoey Deutch, Danny Huston, Ron Livingston.
1 hour 30 minutes

It’s not as if there’s ever a particularly good time for rose-tinted character studies of morally dubious men, but even with that caveat in place, “Richard Says Goodbye” hasn’t exactly picked its moment. At a time when unresolved abuse allegations against Johnny Depp have placed his star image in flux, watching him play a college lecturer whose terminal cancer diagnosis sends him into a tailspin of social, sexual and professional misbehavior is an unavoidably discomfiting experience, however much gonzo gusto he brings to the part. Given more favorable circumstances, however, Wayne Roberts’ second feature would still be an unpalatable proposition, with its iffy sexual politics and a comic tone caught awkwardly between nihilistic irony and dewy-eyed sentiment. Saban Films and DirecTV have already secured U.S. rights to the film, which had it world premiere at the Zurich Film Festival; despite some theatrical play, “Richard” will primarily be saying hello to audiences on VOD.

“The plight of verklempt women is not what I need to hear about right now,” snarls middle-aged English literature professor Richard (Depp) to one of his feminist students early on in the film. The line seems almost an in-joke, alluding to Roberts’ 2016 debut “Katie Says Goodbye,” in which female suffering was piled high on Olivia Cooke’s naive protagonist; though its narrative is unrelated, the titling of “Richard Says Goodbye” suggests a scales-leveling companion piece. Richard himself would certainly be pleased enough with the film, in which male crisis is very much the order of the day. Yet the character’s misogyny seems to have bled into the screenplay: Women, be they loveless middle-aged shrews or guileless ingenues, exist here solely to prompt and inspire our downtrodden hero’s cathartic disobedience.

There’s something here of Alan Ball’s acidic script for “American Beauty,” to which Roberts’ film often seems to play as naked homage, right down to the visual framing of certain suburban tableaux: It’s hard not to spot the similarities between the films’ airless showdowns at the family dinner table, or their legs-against-the-motel-headboard displays of extramarital coupling. Sam Mendes’ 1999 Oscar-winner may have lost some of its fashionability, but the trickiness of its tonal balancing act is underlined wherever “Richard” flat-footedly stumbles.

Both films examine their protagonists’ me-first midlife reinvention under the weight of a looming death sentence; the difference here is that Richard, given months to live by a doctor in the bluntly cut opening scene, knows he’s about to die. Initially responding to the news with a series of dazed, monosyllabic expletives, he keeps his fate secret from all but his best friend (Danny Huston), though a surge of nothing-to-lose spirit lends renewed vigor to an ongoing war of words with his icy, unfaithful sculptress wife (Rosemarie DeWitt, battling a particularly thankless part).

She happens to be sleeping with his detested boss Henry (Ron Livingston), giving Richard a sliver of moral high ground that he ironically parlays into a complete abandonment of professional ethics on campus. Feeling at once untouchable and all-too-imminently mortal, he freely insults his students, drinks and smokes dope with the few who bemusedly remain, and even, in one bewilderingly ill-advised, out-of-nowhere scene, accepts oral sex in his office from one young male admirer.

As “seize the day” efforts go, it’s on the queasy end of the spectrum, yet the film consistently places Richard’s toxic rebellion in a heroic light, counterbalancing each beyond-the-pale provocation with a verbal flurry of rogueish but supposedly sage truth-telling: “Stay away from anyone who has even the slightest whiff of intentional conception,” he instructs his students, in the name of living spontaneously and with abandon. As they warm to his wackiness, there’s even an inkling of mutual attraction with Claire (the ever-winning but ill-served Zoey Deutch), the brightest spark in his class, in an arc of the script that feels oddly curtailed, albeit mercifully so — by this point, “Richard Says Goodbye” has romanticized macho male dysfunction quite enough.

Depp’s peculiar performance is at once the film’s most galvanizing and most disruptive element. Notwithstanding flashes of crazed comic bravado in his drawling delivery, he’s far from credibly cast as a suburban academic and long-repressed family man. (Not that the film’s understanding of English literary study, which doesn’t extend past a gung-ho celebration of “Moby Dick,” gives him much to draw on.) If Richard is a schmuck who’s only recently decided to live life on his own weird terms, Depp’s louche, spaced-out mannerisms make it all but impossible to imagine a previous, more rule-bound version.

Nothing else in the film, however, particularly follows his lead: From its rigid, symmetry-inclined compositions to its heavily worked one-liners, this is cautious, stifling filmmaking in thrall to a reckless, retrograde man, who does little in the course of 90 minutes to merit great fascination or pathos. By the time our nominal hero does indeed bid his audience adieu, his time feels up in more ways than one.

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Re: RICHARD SAYS GOODBYE Reviews and Discussion (Spoilers)

Unread post by SnoopyDances » Sat Oct 06, 2018 7:19 pm

Screen Daily

'Richard Says Goodbye': Zurich Review

Dir/scr. Wayne Roberts. US. 2018. 90 mins

The idea of a lofty academic caught in a real-life crisis has proved fertile ground for novelists and film-makers the world over - it’s a sub-genre with its own set of tropes which director Wayne Roberts turfs over furiously in Richard Says Goodbye, with Johnny Depp as the beleaguered English prof who is given a pre-credits diagnosis of terminal cancer.

Sometimes a bad film is just a bad film, but Depp is most likely to pay the price

Caught in the Global Road fallout, the much-ballyhooed Richard makes its world premiere at the Zurich Film Festival without any news of who will assume sales responsibilites. Any company which takes it on – or distributor who has pre-bought - will have to peddle Depp’s appearance and performance over the film’s under-developed content and dubious sexual politics, hoping to sell it as a comeback of sorts. Richard starts off with an appealingly off-beat slant and an amusing performance from Depp which is far fresher than any we have seen from him in recent years; but as booze-hound Richard starts to say farewell, adios, auf wiedersehen, and goodbye, it all gets predictably sloppy - to the point where you long for someone to put this film in a taxi and send it off into the night.

Told in six dingy chapters, Richard Says Goodbye sees Depp play Richard Brown, English professor at an unidentified upscale college full of wood-panelled walls and even, in one alarming scene, red tartan wallpaper. (Both the main building and the faculty housing look very much blike an old-fashioned golf club.) On receiving his diagnosis, Richard launches into battles on two fronts – the first at home, with his adulterous wife (Rosemarie DeWitt) and lesbian daughter Olivia (Odessa Young); the second at school, where he goes all Dead Poets Society on his class while trying to blackmail the Dean into giving him a paid sabbatical. Richard has decided not to go in for treatment, which may prolong his life by six months, but to live his last year to the fullest.

This involves a lot of red wine and martinis and an attitude to sexual politics that puts Donald Trump to shame. As Richard sways around his dinner table, classrooms, and across the local pub, it’s hard not to recall Captain Jack Sparrow, a role which haunts Depp in a way all those residuals may not even be able to compensate for.

It all seems like a good idea to begin with: DeWitt’s role is reminiscent of Kathleen Turner in The War Of The Roses; Depp is initially engaging; the always-reliable Danny Huston plays Richard’s best friend, Peter. It seems almost depressingly inevitable, however, that Richard’s wife would be sleeping with his boss; that he would sexually experiment with a student (the film thinks it’s being clever, undoubtedly, by that student being black, and male); and he picks on one of his female students who is obsessed with feminist literature in a way that is meant to be funny, but is actually mean-spirited and poorly-executed.

Richard is glaringly under-written. While films (and books) of this genre tend to drench the viewer in academic references, Richard Says Goodbye fields Moby Dick, and that’s it - Richard forces his feminist student to read it, and, in doing so, she realises there’s more to literature. In the same way, one supposes, that a film-maker might watch Citizen Kane and realise he should do a better job than this. The film also loses interest in Richard’s wife, one of the film’s more interesting characters, in order for the prof to start making noble-minded adieus. Life is like a bird song, he tells his students, and the music cues everyone to well up.

Richard Says Goodbye is not attractively shot; interiors are cramped and oddly lit, and there are scant exteriors. This is not a film with a lavish budget, but Richard’s credits do reveal that Mr Depp had hair, make up, clothing and “sound” assistants, so there was money, but it was not well spent. During a florid time in Depp’s personal life, this film is an easy target for being misintepreted by those with an axe to grind in the “me too” era; a sadder truth is that its clumsy approach was most likely unintentional. Sometimes a bad film is just a bad film, but Depp is most likely to pay the price.

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RICHARD SAYS GOODBYE Reviews and Discussion (Spoilers)

Unread post by jruoss » Wed Oct 10, 2018 3:57 pm

I'd still like to see this, but I certainly don't like the sound of the reviews, especially when they say "it's a far fresher performance from Johnny than we've seen in years", and then go on to explain why the film is terrible. It makes the absence of City Of Lies all the more painful. At least there's FB2...
"There is certainly a part of me that tends to be that loner. You never find me in the center of the crowd. I just like to stay back a little and hang in the shadows."