The Professor (2018 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Wayne Roberts|
|Written by||Wayne Roberts|
|Edited by||Sabine Emiliani|
|Distributed by||Saban Films|
|Box office||$3.3 million|
The Professor (alternatively titled Richard Says Goodbye) is a 2018 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Wayne Roberts. The film stars Johnny Depp, Rosemarie DeWitt, Danny Huston, Zoey Deutch, Ron Livingston and Odessa Young.
College English Professor Richard Brown is in the office of his doctor and receives bleak news concerning his health. He has advanced stage cancer of his lungs which has spread throughout his body with mortal consequences. His life expectancy is set by the doctor as being 6 months without treatment, which might be extended to 12–18 months with aggressive and painful cancer treatment. Richard is devastated by the news, becoming self-abusive in verbal tirades against himself, and walking through town and around campus as if in an emotional stupor.
Upon arrival at home for dinner, Richard decides to tell his wife, Veronica, and only daughter, Olivia, the bad news and prepare them for the worst outcome possible. The dinner conversation however takes unexpected turns. His daughter announces that she is a lesbian and that she has taken a lover. Veronica dismisses her daughter as going through a phase, which causes Olivia to storm out of the dining room, upset by her mother's lack of support. Richard's relationship with his wife is troubled and tortured.Veronica confronts Richard with the fact that he has been a poor husband, and that she has taken a lover, the Dean of the college where Richard teaches as part of the tenured faculty in the English department. With everyone having argued at the dinner table, Richard never gets to make his medical report of his crisis situation; when Veronica questions him about it, he says that he was concerned that he had overcooked the steaks.
At campus the next day, Richard greets his full classroom with a confrontational tone reflecting indirectly the bleakness of his own medical situation. He begins telling the students about the urgency of living life to its fullest and criticizes any number of stereotypes he superficially observes among the students in the classroom. He starts weeding out the students who he feels are there to only get easy good grades, or otherwise seek superficial benefits from a friendly faculty. After over half of the potential classroom students leave the class as being of no interest to them, Richard is left with a core group of students who seem attracted to his unorthodox version of straight talk. They decide to stick with the class and Richard's newly proclaimed unorthodoxy. Among the students remaining is the niece of the college Dean who seems to admire Richard for all his differences with her uncle since both of them, Richard and her uncle, are members of the faculty in different departments.
Richard asks his friend, Peter Matthew, who happens to be his department's chairman, to arrange for a sabbatical leave for him on immediate terms. The Chairman tells him that it is impossible on such short notice, but Richard continues to press him. Finally, Richard tells him that he is dying of cancer and that he has no options but to request the immediate sabbatical leave. The chairman, who considers Richard a close friend and colleague, says that he will try his best and tries to reassure Richard as best as he can by way of some emotional support.
The classroom for Richard becomes a place for him to vent his frustration with life and to encourage his young students not to fall into the traps and false career paths which he took in his own life. The students are highly responsive with one of the gay students offering Richard some pot brownies and a sexual tryst in Richard's office. The Dean's niece, on another occasion, asks Richard for a romantic slow dance at a local club. Richard's reliance on alcohol and recreational drugs in these passing days and weeks after receiving his bad news becomes progressively worse. In one instance, he passes out and needs to be hospitalized because of his extreme intoxication.
One redeeming quality in Richard which surfaces is that he is able to express a warmth to his close family members and remaining friends after his bad news diagnosis which he could not express in the past before his cancer diagnosis. He finally bonds with his daughter by accepting her coming out as a lesbian, and manages to at least partially patch things up with his wife during a frenzied and spontaneous drug experimentation episode in their bedroom. The end, however, seems inevitable as Richard does not take on the doctor's option of using chemo-therapy to extend his life by a single year, and Richard decides to leave his home and family on his final sabbatical leave, which has finally been approved by his college. Richard decides to take the less traveled path on his own, in his car and with his dog, in order not to be a burden upon his wife and daughter in his final months of life as his cancer rapidly progresses.
- Johnny Depp as Richard Brown
- Rosemarie DeWitt as Veronica Sinclair-Brown
- Odessa Young as Olivia Brown
- Danny Huston as Peter Matthew
- Zoey Deutch as Claire
- Devon Terrell as Danny
- Ron Livingston as Henry Wright
- Siobhan Fallon Hogan as Donna
- Linda Emond as Barbara
- Matreya Scarrwener as Rose
- Paloma Kwiatkowski as a student
- Kaitlyn Bernard as Taylor
- Michael Kopsa as Richard's doctor
- Ken Kramer as Emeritus
- Justine Warrington as Sarah
- Marilyn Norry as Henry's secretary
On May 8, 2017, it was announced that Johnny Depp would star in a comedy drama film Richard Says Goodbye as a college professor in the titular role, to be written and directed by Wayne Roberts following his debut film Katie Says Goodbye, which IM Global would be fully financing. Brian Kavanaugh Jones would produce the film through his Automatik Entertainment along with IM Global's Greg Shapiro. On July 20, 2017, Zoey Deutch was cast in the film to play one of the students of the professor. The rest of the main cast was announced on July 25, 2017, which included Danny Huston, Rosemarie DeWitt, Devon Terrell, and Odessa Young. It was reported that the film would be co-financed by IM Global and Cirrina Studios, with an additional financing by Leeding Media.
It had its world premiere at the Zurich Film Festival on October 5, 2018. Prior to that, Saban Films and DirecTV Cinema acquired distribution rights to the film. It was released on May 17, 2019.
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The film received largely negative reviews from critics. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 10% based on 20 reviews, with an average rating of 4.85/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "A muddled story populated with thinly written characters and arranged around a misguided Johnny Depp performance, The Professor fails early and often." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 37 out of 100 based on 12 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".
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- Fernandez, Alexia (April 9, 2019). "Johnny Depp Plays a Man with Just Six Months to Live in First Trailer for The Professor". People. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
- "The Professor (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
- "The Professor". Metacritic. Retrieved June 2, 2019.