At the surface, Katie Says Goodbye is about bad luck in the far outskirts of a small forgotten town. But Wayne Roberts, who both wrote and directed the film, has a such a nuanced way of delving into these characters and displaying the complex layers of life.
The film stars Olivia Cooke as Katie, a waitress who dreams of going to beauty school in San Francisco. She lives and takes care of her alcoholic mother (Mireille Enos). Katie’s life is hard, as well as waitressing; she also prostitutes herself to not only pay for her and her mother’s rent but to save money to leave town. Despite her hardships, there is a sense of levity, innocence, and inherent kindness in Katie. To date, I think this is Olivia Cooke’s most mature role, and she absolutely shines in the film. While interviewing Wayne Roberts, I told him that there are moments in the film where just the pain in her eyes reminded me so much of Giulietta Masina’s brilliant performance in Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria.
Christopher Abbott is fantastic as an ex-con Bruno, with whom Katie falls in love. All the acting was remarkable and stood out against the dusty muted hues of the town. I give a lot of credit to Wayne Roberts for creating a film in such an authentic, meaningful way that never once feels cliched. This is the kind of film I’m always searching for. It isn’t an obvious choice or an instant money maker. This is a film that is raw, emotional, devastating at times, but it’s also a story about a survivor.
There is no neatly tied up contrived ending, and that is precisely why I loved it. Wayne Roberts is an auteur and an artistic filmmaker who clearly loves his craft. I will always root for and respect the filmmaker that doesn’t create a film based on what he thinks will sell or be marketable, but because of a story that comes to them and needs to be told. Today many things seem artificial and easily interchangeable, so when I see something truthful and artistic, it gives me hope. Wayne Roberts is in person as authentic and real as his films are and I can’t wait to see what he creates next.
Watch Jennifer’s interview with writer/director Wayne Roberts below:
KATIE SAYS GOODBYE stars Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), Christopher Abbott (Hulu¹s Catch-22, Girls), Mireille Enos (The Catch), Mary Steenburgen (The Last Man on Earth) and Jim Belushi (Showtime’s Twin Peaks).
KATIE SAYS GOODBYE is award-winning director Wayne Roberts¹ first feature. Roberts second film is The Professor, starring Johnny Depp, Zoey Deutch, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Ron Livingston. KATIE SAYS GOODBYE is produced by Eric Schultz of Relic Pictures, Carlo Sirtori, David Steiner and Benjamin Steiner of Parallel Cinéma, and Jake Wasserman and Kimberly Parker of Unknown Subject. The film had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival and will receive a multi-city theatrical and VOD release on June 7th.