Anyone whose artistic dreams have ever eluded them will find much to appreciate in the micro-budgeted, improv-based drama "Goodbye Promise," a simple, richly emotional look at a failed actor's introspective last days in Hollywood.
"Being a good actor isn't enough in this town," rightly concludes Matt (Gregor Collins), a good-looking, 30-ish thespian who's spent much of the past decade struggling to make it. Thus, a week away from a self-prescribed, seven-year deadline for success — and with only a promising turn in an unfinished film and an elusive TV audition to hold him in L.A. — Matt opts to give up the ghost and return home to Washington, D.C. First, however, he must say goodbye to an eclectic array of actor friends plus an ex-flame (Sarah Prikryl), with each succinct encounter helping Matt reflect on his life-altering decision.
Director-cinematographer David Branin (he also co-wrote with Collins and co-produced with Collins and cast member Karen Worden) has crafted a visually alert, enormously well-observed film that deftly captures Hollywood heartbreak without feeling clichéd or self-pitying, especially given the potentially navel-gazing situation.
It's a testament to both the filmmaker's skill and to Collins' appealing, affecting performance that we so invest in the disillusioned Matt, the should-I-stay-or-should-I-go of his journey providing mounting pangs of tension and poignancy.