Worn down by the ironic brightness of her pastel kitchen, the mother slouches in her ragged robe. The husband, cloaked in the shadows of his study, dourly packs for his next sales trip. She finds him in the kids’ room, a space not overdetermined by set design or arc lights, so the petty complaints fall away, and they furtively fuck. Details of mise-en-scéne continually affect the principals of Hard Goodbyes, a tender Greek drama documenting a child’s disbelief in the face of his father’s death. Young Elias is left only with banal talismans of his presence. He gathers candy bars, suit coats, and appliances, implacably staring until the old man comes to life in his imagination. His refusal to accept reality leads to remarkable images of yearning, climaxing in a heart-stopper: Mom reading her husband’s book to the shadow of Elias in his pup tent, grazing his fugitive shape with heroic restraint.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 6, 2005