A lawyer barred from practicing and expecting a child, goes through enormous government bureaucracy in her quest to obtain a visa to leave Iran. Under the formalist direction of Mohammad Rasoulof, the film is executed as a collection of brilliantly composed static shots and dialogues that unravel scene by scene to add up to an intriguing whole.

When we first meet the protagonist Noora, we know very little about her or her precarious situation. She visits clinics regularly (the first scene has her taking a blood test), followed by rounds of government institutions and a shady travel agent, who is assisting her with the paperwork required to obtain the visa. Her husband is nowhere to be seen and she tells everyone that after he lost his job at the newspaper, he went to the South for work.

In all of these situations, Noora is constantly reminded about Iran’s patriarchal society where women need the company of male counterparts to either rent a hotel or undertake potentially risky tests at hospitals. Under Rasoulof’s observant direction, the significance of many scenes isn’t as obvious as when we see them at first. Noora, for example, gets on a train and spends the next few minutes with the camera focused on her standing inside, then reaching for her nail polish remover and working her nails. The realization of why she does this only becomes apparent in the next scene when we see her at the lawyer’s office, a government institution that would probably shun women in makeup. The rest of the film is made in the same vein, as a collection of brilliantly composed static shots where the camera’s unmoving gaze provides a vigilant perspective and whose position has been well thought out to provide the best vantage possible. These combine with tight crops to make Noora feel enclosed and subjugated.

To put things into perspective, it is important to note that the director was sentenced, along with fellow filmmaker Jafar Panahi, to six years in prison and slapped with a ban on making films or leaving the country. While this was later overturned and the director was free to travel, the film feels like a subtle act of defiance and one scene in particularly, where Noora is interrogated by plainclothes secret police when she gets into her apartment elevator and forced to travel up and down floors while the men ask probing questions about her activist husband, create a sense of personal despair. Even the symbolism of Noora’s pet turtle, which disappears one day from the house, after being shifted from its cracked aquarium to an open tray, serves to underscore the acts of subterfuge all around her. Subdued in its approach but leaving an enormous impact, especially during its closing moments, Good Bye is made extraordinary thanks to the films unique technique of being constructed as a puzzle where every scene and each dialogue fits together to form the whole.

About Faizan Rashid

A veteran Dubai based film critic, Faizan has been reviewing movies for nearly a decade. His work has been published in local newspapers such as 7days and on prestigious online websites such as MSN Arabia and