I was not prepared for where The Long Goodbye took me. Aneil Karia’s chronicles Riz Ahmed’s confrontation with racism in the UK head on. It uses Ahmed’s music and his words to describe his anger, loneliness, and fears. It is a real contender for Live Action Short Film this season, and it has won prizes at BIFA, Palm Springs, and London Critics Circle.
Riz is hanging out with his family at home as everyone prepares for an upcoming wedding. He’s so busy with his younger brother that he doesn’t notice violence spreading through his neighborhood on the television in the background. When he sees mysterious black vans zooming down the streets and men with guns passing between the houses, Riz tries to act before it’s too late.
To speak of everything that happens in Karia’s film would be a disservice to the viewer. The Long Goodbye is told in three very different parts. You will be lulled by the opening act, shocked at the events in act two, and then left breathless by the time the credits roll. Karia–who also directed the fantastic, Ben Whishaw fronted Surge this year–blares music in our ears and captures total chaos by putting the audience inside the house, but then Riz challenges us by talking directly to us.
We cannot ignore the hatred we see out in the real world. The events of The Long Goodbye are very specific to Riz’s own words and experiences, but American audiences will no doubt be reminded of the callous and public displays of prejudice seen in the last five years. You will think of the Unite the Right rally, Charlottesville, and the many times white people get away with literal murder in the streets.
The Long Goodbye is streaming now on Ahmed’s YouTube page.