'Goodbye' review: Charged performances, overpowering emotions make film absolutely worthwhile
Amitabh Bachchan, Rashmika Mandanna led Goodbye arrived in theaters on Friday. Directed by Vikas Bahl, the film co-stars Sunil Grover and Neena Gupta. A slice-of-life drama with dollops of heartwarming and tear-jerker moments, Goodbye overwhelms you with fervid emotions and stays with you much after the credits roll. PS: If those tears flow, let them, just keep the tissues ready. Here's our review.
'Goodbye' focuses on family matriarch's death, family's response to grief
The film follows the Bhalla family in Chandigarh, whose life turns on its head after the sudden death of their family matriarch Gayatri (Gupta). Her death brings together her kids scattered across the country and abroad, as Harish (Bachchan) tries to bind them together. The film explores the generation gap, faith versus science debate, and digs into the dysfunctionality that defines seemingly normal families.
Performances and execution breathe life into the commonplace story
The plot may seem nondescript but its touching portrayal has breathed life into the simple story, making it a moving portrait of family relations and parent-child relationships. Goodbye, surprisingly, sets the wheels in motion directly with the said death; it's in congruence with the larger theme—death is gloomy, divorced from joy. Special mention to Amit Trivedi's dramatic music that amplifies the emotional pitch.
Acts as social commentary, accurately showcases varied reactions to death
The film sketches the varied, sometimes unpleasant reactions to death—one person's grief becomes another one's task, to provide food, pause their work, and just be there—humanity is a lot to ask for. Goodbye also captures the sheer insensitivity on display that often transpires during funerals and cremations. The dramatic portions strike the right chords and leave you with a lot to pause and ponder.
'Goodbye' suffers from tonal inconsistencies, multiple cardboard characters
However, once the focal point is out of the way, the film mostly meanders in the second half, trying to decipher how to progress from there. The characters' backstories are poorly sketched out, almost nonexistent, ultimately reducing them to just cardboard characters. There are also evident tonal confusions that signal Goodbye's confusion to commit to a genre across multiple scenes.
Sequences, at times, don't blend well into each other
There is a sense of abrupt disjointedness, which becomes pronounced when a disparate scene acts as a cue for intermission. There's not much cause and effect, rather, a sequence of events that seem like a checklist of scenes that somehow had to be ticked off.
Big B does it yet again, finds support in Mandanna
Bachchan brings alive the anger, vulnerability, and grief of a widower, particularly poignant in a society where men's emotions are mandated to be forever veiled. There are visible shades of his character from Bhoothnath and Piku here, almost as if both the characters converged to give birth to this one. Mandanna delivers an earnest performance, but her accent sometimes gets in the way.
Ashish Vidyarthi's presence helps the story; Gupta has limited presence
Ashish Vidyarthi, as the oversmart, nagging religious family friend, seems to have an absolute blast with his scenes, and, as always, delivers an assertive performance on screen. As was evident from the trailer, Gupta has an extremely limited presence but shines effortlessly despite this finiteness.
Watch it with your families!
Goodbye spoke to me as a haunting reminder of mortality, and as the appreciation of everything that exists between the first and the final stop. It's a snapshot of contemporary life, the whys and hows of acknowledging and processing grief. It's far from perfect; its tonal disparities impede it at times, but it still manages to etch a place in your heart. Verdict: 3/5.