If you can connect to a character and allow their pain to be yours, you know you’re going to be in for a ride. This movie will tug on your heart strings and take you on a wild rollercoaster of emotions. Director Matt Walting, with the help of executive producer Stacey Davis and screenplay writer Layla O’Shea, brings forth a modern take on the typical coming-of-age story with Just Say Goodbye. Jesse, played by Max MacKenzie, comes from a troubled home; he struggles with an alcoholic father, Rick, played by William Galatis, and a school bully, Chase, played by Jesse Walters. He desperately wants to leave his small town and hard life, but his way to do so involves going through with suicide. Luckily, his best friend, Sarah, is played by Katerina Eichenberger, who tries to help through everything.

The Exposure To Mental Health

We are at a time as a society where mental health is getting the public attention that it deserves, alongside it the stigma originally associated with it is slowly fading away. Previously, discussing mental health was stigmatized in everyday conversation and absolutely no one wanted to talk about it. It by no means has completely changed, but we are heading in a positive direction in regards to mental health. Part of this is the topic’s introduction into mainstream media, along with celebrities using their platform to open up discussion.

Just Say Goodbye
@ Walting Entertainment, 2019

Just Say Goodbye does an outstanding job of showing us a side of mental health and illness that we may not have seen before. The main character, Jesse, is struggling with being the kid that people constantly bully, both at school and at home. Anyone can relate to this movie because we all have our own personal battles. Jesse is what we could all become if we don’t let the positive energy get through to us. He has a lot of potential for his drawing abilities. He has an amazing best friend, Sarah, and an almost second family with her and her mom. It can be easy to allow the negativity in your life to overcome your support system and potential. We see this happen to Jesse before our own eyes.

Character Development in Just Say Goodbye

There is a turning point in Just Say Goodbye that throws all of the characters’ backs against the wall. This is when we most specifically see Jesse’s dad, Rick, and Sarah grow the most. Rick has issues, but most of the time, he deflects his problems. He turns to alcohol and mistreats Jesse as an outlet for his problems. Rick always expects Jesse to clean up whatever mess he makes. He takes the newfound life he fell into a chance to right his wrongs. After taking a long look in the mirror and realizing who he has become, he wants to do better.

Jesse tells Sarah that she should move on and find happiness, and that is exactly what Sarah does. Sarah goes off to college, makes new friends, and even meets a special someone. She was always trying to take care of Jesse, and maybe she never stopped to take care of herself. After the turning point in the movie, Sarah begins to prioritize her own happiness. Both Rick and Sarah show serious personal growth, in which the audience form deeper connections to the characters.

Just Say Goodbye Provides Character Depth

Just Say Goodbye
@ Walting Entertainment, 2019

Another way the audience will feel drawn to Just Say Goodbye is how we come to learn about the characters. Much of the dialogue feels raw and authentic. In one scene Rick tells Jesse that he drinks because Jesse reminds him of Jesse’s mom who Rick and Jesse lost to suicide.

I drink because every day I see your face, I’m reminded of her.

Just Say Goodbye (2019)

That single line rings on for minutes after you hear it for several reasons. Not only is it one of the most brutal things a father can say to a son, but you also hear the pain in Rick’s voice. Rick is devastated over losing his wife and he hurts so much that he takes it out on Jesse. This does not justify Rick’s actions, but we understand how emotionally distraught he is. We also learn why Jesse’s bully, Chase, torments him. Chase is a terrible person nonetheless, but at least we get some depth from him.

Jesse’s character unfurls as the Just Say Goodbye story progresses. We learn to understand why he does the things he does. We learn what makes him tick. Jesse’s hopes and aspirations come out, as well as what hurts him and what makes his life so hard. We get an honest glimpse at Jesse’s life and we feel like we truly know him by the end of the film.

Get to Just Say Goodbye

The characters will build an emotional connection with you throughout the film. The cast and crew go above and beyond to create authentic, relatable characters. You almost feel like you know them by the end of the film. Just Say Goodbye uses its platform to bring to light mental health issues. It is not always easy to talk about mental health, but it is worth getting the message out. Films lately have been using their platform to expose some ugly things.

As a society, we are making great strides at allowing mental illness to be discussed openly. People are learning about the options they did not have before. Whether it be therapy or hotlines to talk to people, the available resources are increasing. Just Say Goodbye is a movie that helps people understand the importance of mental health education.