Just Before I Go | Tribeca Film Festival 2014
There is a sentiment of appreciation for being unafraid to showcase the appalling side of humanity and all its insecurities, while preserving the honesty of humour. This movie opens with the beautiful scene of a lake surrounded by trees, demonstrating the natural beauty of Ted’s (Sean William Scott) hometown. Drowning in its murky waters, Ted begins his story by contemplating his mediocre life and everything that led him to this moment.
Realising that his life is nothing but a shell of depression and insignificance, Ted is motivated to confront his past bullies before bringing his life to an end with suicide. He returns to his hometown, moving in with his brother Lucky (Garret Dillahunt), who is a cop, Lucky’s miserable wife, the “sleep masturbator” Kathleen (played by Kate Walsh), and their sons.
Initiating his master plan, Ted confronts his seventh grade teacher, finding her bedridden in a senior living facility. He releases pent-up frustration, shouting obscenities, accusing her of setting his life on the path to ruin, and annihilating his self-esteem and happiness. Our protagonist then meets Greta (Olivia Thirlby), the granddaughter of his teacher adversary. Appalled by his behaviour and plan, she promises to assist him by documenting his journey to death. Along the way we are introduced to a cast of witty characters who are facing their own conflicts of identity and unhappiness. Ted quickly realises that he is not alone in the battle of misery and emptiness.
Scott is lovable in this central role, instinctively helping others despite his selfish plan. Reaquainting with his seventh grade bully Rowley, they form a surprising bond in their mutual experience of verbal abuse and humiliation.
The story comes full circle at his teacher’s funeral. Learning the truth about Greta’s past, Ted discovers the pain she is experiencing in anticipation of his pending suicide. Greta is right: people may care that he will die. In her directorial debut, Courteney Cox portrays the reality of the difficult, authentic crises that people deal with. It is easy to become offended by the homosexuality, obesity and mental disability jokes that the characters easily spew out, but ignorance is real. There is comfort in seeing the honesty in the characters’ reactions – no matter how crude they may be. Just Before I Go is a sad comedy that makes one appreciate life in all its dysfunctional beauty.
Just Before I Go opens on April 24th at Tribeca Film Festival, for further information visit here.