REVIEW: The Long Goodbye [2020]

Rating: 7 out of 10.
  • Rating: NR | Runtime: 12 minutes
    Release Date: March 6th, 2020 (UK)
    Director(s): Aneil Karia
    Writer(s): Aneil Karia & Riz Ahmed

I spit my truth and it’s brown.


Even before Riz Ahmed (who co-wrote with director Aneil Karia) rises from the pavement to rap his song “Where You From” (also heard in the feature-length film Mogul Mowgli), their short The Long Goodbye feels like a music video. Yes, we hear Ahmed singing other songs in the background as his character’s family prepares for his sister’s wedding, but I mean that more for the energy of the whole than any literal sense of the medium. We can feel that we’re biding time even if we don’t yet know why. Maybe it’s about the far-right march on the television that Ahmed’s father wants to watch. Maybe it’s about the male friend his sister invited to her own wedding. We merely know that a storm is coming.

That dread and anticipation plays like a crescendo. And the climax proves as confrontational and, perhaps, exploitative as you can imagine. This is the point. This is what music videos have been doing for decades—pushing the envelope visually and thematically to provide their message with the blunt force trauma of their lyrical emotion. The first thing that came to mind as the credits rolled was Romain Gavras‘ video for M.I.A.’s “Born Free” and its stark, brutal aesthetic where it comes to genocide and terrorism. Karia and Ahmed pull no punches in their depiction of a very real future ahead if white supremacy isn’t curbed soon. This family isn’t surprised when the twenty-first century Nazis arrive. They expected it. It’s not, “Something is happening.” It’s simply, “They’re here.”

Is the result effective? Sure. You cannot watch the happy-go-lucky sensibility of people readying for a celebration evaporating into fearful screams without feeling something—whether a kinship to their dread from anticipating the same happening to you or the shame of knowing you’d be one of the one’s who let it happen. That’s the powerful imagery. The white neighbors gazing through their windows as people they’ve surely invited over to their homes are rounded up like criminals in the street. That’s what lingers as Ahmed spits his truth as a Muslim Brit of Pakistani descent who can’t help but feel like stranger in his own country as pro-white European sentiment grows. He’s throwing nuance out the window to make sure audiences understand what’s happening. He can’t afford confusion.


photography:
courtesy of ShortsTV

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