Growing up can be hard for children and parents. That moment when your child is old enough to move out on their own is a proud, but heartbreaking, time. What happens when that child is middle-aged and instead of waiting for them to leave you, you leave them? That’s the idea behind Ok, Enough, Goodbye, screening as part of the TIFF series Once Upon A Time, Lebanon: Visions Of Postwar In New Lebanese Cinema. The unnamed protagonist (Daniel Arzrouni) is a middle-aged bachelor living with his mother (Nadime Attieh). He rarely goes out, except for work, spending all of his free time with his mother. While he’s at work one day, his mother moves to Beirut, leaving him to fend for himself and forcing him to interact with a world he’s avoided for years.
Written and directed by Daniel Garcia and Rania Attieh, the film has a strange sense of humour. Almost all of the comedy comes out of the way the unnamed son deals with the people around him, especially a young neighbour, Walid (Walid Al-Ayoubi), who likes him but is just a nuisance to the son. Walid Al-Ayoubi steals all his moments in the film, coming off as Dennis the Menace to Daniel Arzrouni’s Mr Wilson. Aside from the scenes involving Walid and the son, most of the comedy is very deadpan, and some viewers may find it too flat to really enjoy. Things pick up a bit when the son meets up with an old friend, who is much more animated than the son and enjoys making a few jokes at the son’s expense.
The idea behind the film is perfect for some great comedy, but it’s never realized in the movie. When the mother suddenly moves out and leaves the son on his own, the audience starts to expect some very funny moments and awkward situations as the son finally learns to become a man. The problem is that the son never learns to become anything more than he already was. Instead of adapting to his new situation and finally becoming an independent person, the son attempts to fill his mothers role. First with a prostitute, and then with an Ethiopian maid who doesn’t even speak the same language. By the end of the film, the son hasn’t changed one bit, continuing to be the slightly grumpy loner he was before.
The complete lack of growth for the main character seems to take away the point of the movie. The entire reason the mother left was so her son would become a man. The fact that he continues to be the same means the mother has failed in her attempt. The most interesting part of the film is when the son hires the Ethiopian maid. The practice of having a maid in Lebanon is very common, and their treatment at the hands of their employers has become a concern in recent years. The film takes a small moment to touch on these ideas, but avoids becoming too wrapped up in them, which is unfortunate as that could have been used to enhance the comedy while still exploring an important issue.
Ok, Enough, Goodbye screens on Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 5:15 pm as part of the TIFF series Once Upon A Time, Lebanon: Visions Of Postwar In New Lebanese Cinema. Tickets and information can be found at their website.