When Richard learns he is terminally ill, he reflects on his life and turns it upside down for the last days he has left. After anger and despair, he accepts his fate and does what he would never have done before – saying goodbye to life and the people who meant something to him….
Johnny Depp plays in the leading role the terminally ill professor. He authentically embodies the deterioration of the man who wants to experience something once again. So he cheats on his wife, admits to her affair with his boss and dares to do things he would never have done in the life before the diagnosis. In the process, he realizes that he is trapped in tight shackles, imposed by society that believes he will live forever. What he learns in those few weeks could have changed his entire existence if he had acted accordingly earlier.
He wants to teach the remaining students in his seminary just that. He also reacts differently to his wife’s affair than he probably would have before the diagnosis. There were good years in the marriage, so why should he get upset and throw it all away. “Love isn’t final,” lectures a student, summarizing – unwittingly – the professor’s marriage and telling the audience what’s worth holding on to. This is followed by the professor’s appeal to make something of life, to earn something, but also to give something back, to fight and not sink into mediocrity. “You have a chance, just a fucking chance, don’t miss a moment of it.”
Richard says goodbye is the original title of the film and it is a long goodbye that is a new beginning for others. With his speech, Richard wants to encourage his students – at other points in the film also his daughter and friends – and urge them to do what he has never done.
The Professor (German title) is the marriage of the medieval “memento mori” idea (without relating it to the afterlife) and, at its core, like The Dead Poets Society. It’s about living and dying, about missed opportunities, about conventions and unwritten rules to which one submits. In the end, only when it’s too late do you realize that life could have been so much more had you taken your chances.
Character actor Johnny Depp brilliantly plays the leading role of the dying man, at his side Rosemarie DeWitt as Veronica, Danny Huston as Peter, his best friend. Director Wayne Roberts thus remains true to his basic theme. His first film, Katie says goodbye, was already about dreams, breaking out of entrenched patterns and enjoying life. In the end, the viewer is left in silence after heavy fare. The film is involving, thought-provoking and has a clear, honest, great message: “Believe me, living is just great.”
Richard Says Goodbye
Duration : 90 minutes
Directed by Wayne Roberts
Starring : Johnny Depp, Zoey Deutch, Danny Huston, Rosemarie DeWitt, Siobhan Fallon Hogan, Linda Emond and others.