Shalim Goodbye

Directed by Jacopo Manzari | Review by Terra Budreviciute

Shalim Goodbye is a fairly ordinary film, with a clear message, a good beginning and an ending that leaves you both satisfied and questioning at the same time. It’s a morality tale, almost reminiscent of Christmas Carol and 70s-80s fairytale & fantasy movies. But it’s not a fantasy film and it transforms its lead character in a unique, voicing way. So even if you’re not a big fan of moralistic stories, this one anyone can enjoy – especially those of us who appreciate family.

Shalim Goodbye has many strong points as a film. One such is the cinematography of the story. The dark tones, strange and sometimes ambiguous camera angles and still menacing shots is what makes seeing this tale so easy – it adds to the understanding of where it’s actually going. From an opening frame to the closing shot on Shalim, the story told through frames is linear to the story told through words. Indie filmmakers often focus on either story or cinematography, rarely considering the power the two have when united together. It’s mostly due to their lack of experience that one or the other is better, but Jacopo Monzari managed to unite both aspects perfectly.
Here we also have the story that comes nicely together with the rest of the film. Again, Monzari is not reinventing the wheel or trying to stand out with extraordinary measures. He instead takes a simple life – a piece of someone’s existence – and makes it viewable for us, ordinary viewers. The script is clear, conscious and understandable in that way – and it’s one of the best parts of his movie. The other part that many people could appreciate and enjoy is the humor. Sometimes over the top, sometimes too in your face and sometimes a little harsh and quite cynical, delivered by wonderful Paolo Graziosi. Every joke makes you laugh – even the ones that really shouldn’t be funny.

The third best point in this film is the acting. Although the cast is small and most work falls on the actors who play Mario and Shalim, the overall film wouldn’t work as well if the supporting cast wasn’t phenomenal either. Jacopo Monzari again surprises us here not only by directing and writing the film, but also starring in it as the titular character, Mario’s, son. Sabrina Bertaccini also makes a memorable little entrance as Lola, and even though she only has one brief scene, it’s enough to remember her playful, yet serious portrayal of the character. But of course, the main praise has to go to Paolo Graziosi and Ahmed Hafiene. The two characters share such an intense and sincere on-screen chemistry that it’s hard to believe that the two may have only met on set for the first time. From the very first interaction to their very last confrontation, the protagonists of the story stick strongly to their acting chops. You can see the growth in character and the growth in the actor – which is a rare feat for many current actors, who instead focus on pulling tricks, rather than really delving deep into each minute thing that makes a person – a person. As a current acting student, I can appreciate that.
Besides all already mentioned amazing aspects of the film, a lot of praise should be given to the music and editing. As much as the directors, the actors and the cinematographers can pull a great story together, it’s the post-production process that makes the magic happen. In this case, intense magic. The string music and occasional incorporation of a more modern beat is perfect for this story, displaying its transition from old generation to new, from past to present and from lies to truth. Not only that, but the score is very memorable – making the story enduring too! On top of that, add exquisite editing and you’ve got yourself a marvelous film!

Overall, Shalim Goodbye is a pristine debut for Jacopo Monzari who produced, directed, wrote and starred in it. It doesn’t break anything and it doesn’t invent something new – it rather focuses on a simple story, real-life characters and a moral lesson that can be heard through ages.
Rimute Terra Budreviciute is a filmmaker, actress and singer from Lithuania. She has been a part of numerous stage and TV musicals in her home country. She is a graduate of Alytus Music School and has been a member of pop group “O Lia Lia” for 3 years before coming out to United States to study acting at American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Since then she has been working on multiple short films and plays.