THE final film shown at the Manchester International Film Festival this year was a sweeping, modern epic; Katie Says Goodbye is a festival highlight and a film that manages to transcend the cruelty and ugliness it depicts.
Oldham’s own Olivia Cooke plays Katie, a teenaged waitress living in a remote corner of Arizona, who turns tricks to support her alcoholic mother and achieve her dream of moving to San Francisco.
An oasis of kindness in a cruel and unforgiving desert, Katie endures blow after blow from the town’s residents, who see her as nothing more than trailer trash: a plaything to be bought, sold and abused.
Katie is a patient, saint-like figure, but she is far from naive. At just 17-years-old Katie is pragmatic, practical and well aware of the viciousness that surrounds her.
Her weariness may be masked by courtesy and optimism, but it underlies everything she does, fueling her fierce independence and her desperate need for escape.
However, after meeting sullen ex-convict Bruno (Christopher Abbott), whose fragility Katie mistakes for a gentle soul, she decides to give the town one more chance and the two enter a relationship.
Katie Says Goodbye is a brutal and uncompromising subversion the American dream, which undermines the idea that kindness and community are at the heart of small town USA.
The hardships that you see on screen aren’t there to shock you however, they are there to tell a story – one of incredible self-determination, endurance and strength.
The ensemble cast are fantastic and the characters well-drawn. Mary Steenburgen and Jim Belushi are heartbreaking as Katie’s surrogate parents: the two people in the town who have her interests at heart.
Cooke says that ahead of filming, director Wayne Roberts gave her with a comprehensive guide to Katie’s backstory, information which she puts to excellent use.
The award for best actress goes to…
Olivia Cooke – Katie Says Goodbye
CONGRATULATIONS ? pic.twitter.com/PgrOoh3ouH
— Manchester Film Fest (@ManIFFofficial) March 5, 2017
As hard as her struggles are to watch, I was constantly reminded that for long-suffering Katie the events we see on screen are the tip of the iceberg.
As hard as her struggles are to watch, I was constantly reminded that for long-suffering Katie the events we see on screen are the the tip of the iceberg.
The news that the film is the first part in a planned trilogy, while entirely welcome, also suggests that Katie’s misadventures are far from over.