Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Goodbye, Petrushka: Movie Review

Off-kilter indie rom-com lacking comedy and relatability.

Goodbye, Petrushka is a low-budget indie romantic dramedy. It has some witty comedy that immediately elevates it well above something like Emily in Paris that shares an almost identical premise and plot description. Claire (Lizzie Kehoe) is an American girl ready to change her life so she moves to Paris, works as a nanny, and falls in and out of love.   2022

Directed by: Nicola Rose

Screenplay by: Nicola Rose

Starring: Lizzie Kehoe, Vieljeux

If you’re looking for a fun traditional or even just mainstream rom-com, this definitely isn’t it. If you’re looking for an off-kilter rom-com, this could be it. All of the characters, who barely resemble real-life humans, plus a few production limitations keep everything about this movie off-kilter. It’s weird and eccentric, funny at times, interesting at times, but never romantic or even enjoyable. And yet, based on its plot it does most closely resemble a romantic comedy.

Claire is described as impulsive and na├»ve, but her innocence comes across as child-like and too inappropriate to be funny or relatable. Lead actress Lizzie Kehoe, a new-comer in her first feature film, is able to match the eccentric tone of the film. A girl who is somehow both disillusioned and ignorant to all the challenges of the world, Kehoe presents Claire with a curious screen presence. Her physical comedy and line delivery all appear to be well-polished, but there’s also a distinct lack of comedy in a movie that can only be described as a comedy, so there’s a disconnect somewhere. That disconnect appears to be in the story the movie is telling. Claire and the situations she finds herself in are far from relatable that the movie never really finds its footing and the audience definitely can’t.

The love interests in Claire’s life include Thibault (Vieljeux) a down-on-his-luck and past-his-prime figure skater who’s struggle to come to terms with the end of his career, and a cute guy named Rafal (Bartek Szymanski) who is so poorly defined his only characteristics are that he loves puppets and Claire.

Puppetry is a major theme of the movie. Claire wants to tell stories, and she sees all of her stories as puppet performances. In a college course back in New York at the beginning she was tasked with making a movie, and she just filmed a cardboard puppet stand in her living room and called that a movie. The animated sequences as she envisions her puppets in her head work way better than her actual puppet ideas, but it’s all so weird. The title Goodbye, Petrushka comes from a puppet adaptation of Petrushka a Russian ballet burlesque.

The film has some pacing problems, mostly from editing that just can’t convey passage of time. It looks like a few attempts to cover up budget limitations with quick editing, but it doesn’t seem to either help or hurt the comedy. It’s too weird to be funny. Goodbye, Petrushka is definitely different though, so there is some appeal for those wanting something off-kilter. However, for those of us who like movies centered in the world we can relate to, it leaves a lot to be desired.