Skip to content

Review: The Longest Goodbye

May 13, 2023

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

With a manned mission to Mars now basically a matter of when and not if, one of the biggest questions that remains is how human astronauts will deal with the isolation on the three year mission that it takes to get to the Red Planet.

This question is explored in Israeli director Ido Mizrahy’s documentary The Longest Goodbye. The film features NASA psychologist Dr. Al Holland, who is trying to find a solution to these human problems, as scientific advancements make the Mars mission an inevitable reality in the near future.

Holland is researching not only the psychological impacts of isolation for prolonged periods of time, but also how to deal with the disconnect from their families, and being stuck in a confined space with other astronauts and crew members.

Mizrahy’s film explores possible solutions to these problems, such as using VR to simulate life back on Earth, or having the astronauts interact with a floating AI robot named Cimon, that is basically a white ball with a computer screen on the front and what looks like a simple, drawn-on face. The possibility of hibernation is also discussed in the film, but this raises the question of if one crew member would have to remain alert to wake the others when the three years are up.

Holland is notable for using some of the techniques he developed at NASA to help the trapped Chilean minors deal with adapting to isolation and being trapped together in a confined space, which is used as a case study in the film. Astronaut Catherine Coleman, who left her husband and son on Earth to board the International Space Station, is also featured, with the film showing how she had to adapt to interacting with her family via webcam.

Since there is still a lot we don’t actually know about what this sort of extreme isolation would do to people over the course of three years, The Longest Goodbye is more about reflecting on these questions than it is about offering conclusive answers. As such, the film offers a unique, almost contemplative viewing experience, with its engaging visuals, interesting sound design, and pensive musical score.

The Longest Goodbye opens in limited release on May 13th at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema in Toronto.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: