Hello I Must Be Going (2012)

Starring: Melanie Lynskey, Blythe Danner, John Rubenstein, Julie White, Christopher Abbott, Dan Futterman, Sara Chase, Tori Feinstein, Dave T. Koenig, Jimmi Simpson.

Director: Todd Louiso
Rating: R (for language and sexual content.)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Date: September 7, 2012
Home Video Release Date: TBD
North American Box Office: $40 Thousand

Hello I Must Be Going, Union Entertainment Group and Oscilloscope Pictures.

Written by: Sarah Koskoff.
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1/2 (out of 5 stars)

Oftentimes things turn out differently than you imagine or design them to play out.  This is not only one of the themes explored in the new romantic comedy Hello I Must Be Going but also a clear parallel to the career of New Zealand actress Melanie Lynskey.  Lynskey was right there, scene-for-scene alongside Kate Winslet in 1994′s Heavenly Creatures, the stunning breakthrough for Oscar-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson which launched Winslet into the orbit of superstardom.  Lynskey however, every bit as good in the film, saw a different path, one not lined with paparazzi, A-list red carpets, Oscar nominations or an eventual win.  Lynskey has had no shortage of work, but becoming a household name and an instantly recognizable face has become elusive.  And while Hello I Must Be Going is not the film which will propel her to any of those things I attributed to Kate Winslet just yet, Lynskey is front and center in the film, delivering a knockout performance in an independent romantic dramedy that Lynskey owns from start to finish.

Three months into a divorce because of her husband’s affair, Amy (Lynskey) has moved back in with her parents, Ruth and Stan (Blythe Danner, John Rubenstein) in upscale Connecticut and is in the throes of depression.  She is holed up in her room, cries at the drop of a hat, and her parents, especially her Mom, try and get her out and living life once again.  When Amy agrees to join her parents for a dinner they are hosting to try and woo a potential new client’s family for her father’s law practice, that family includes 19-year old Jeremy (Christopher Abbott).  A former child actor who just played controversial gay artist/photographer Robert Mapplethorpe on stage, Jeremy has his mother convinced he is gay and Jeremy, who is straight,  and a kind-hearted compliant type of soul, let”s her believe it.  But at that dinner, as Amy is pressed a bit on her life by Jeremy’s family, Jeremy locks eyes with Amy and something begins to smolder.

After a secret and unexpected kiss occurs, a phone call comes from Jeremy’s mother (Julie White) asking if Amy would mind taking Jeremy around their new town, showing him places he can visit during the summer before Jeremy leaves for college.  Amused by this request, Amy abides and Jeremy is much more interested in spending more time with his new crush than sightseeing.  Driving to the beach on the rainiest day imaginable, Amy is intrigued and suddenly 35-year old Amy and 19-year old Jeremy have started something improbable, perhaps illogical, but nonetheless thrilling for both of them.

Directed by Todd Louiso, who some may still remember as the nanny in Jerry Maguire pushing jazz on Tom Cruise or as Jack Black’s Belle & Sebastian-loving co-worker in High Fidelity, and featuring the first screenplay written by his wife and former actress Sarah Koskoff, Hello I Must Be Going does arrive at the party wearing its indie movie uniform loud and bold.  The muted and hushed tones, the dialogue-heavy interplay, the mood and atmosphere, and that singer/songwriter soundtrack from seasoned Colorado musician Laura Veirs all makes this appear to embody the cliches one expects from a small scale independent movie one finds at the art-house and never the multiplex.

But look a little bit deeper and you find that Melanie Lynskey is illuminating in her performance.  She compels in every frame, building Amy from the inside out.  Amy has not only regressed back to a more spirited and youthful innocence in her falling for Jeremy, but is also starting to realize how much she relinquished in marrying the man she thought was her everything, but ultimately became nothing.  Where most films would make the age disparity between Amy and Jeremy the central focus, here it is an always present, but never dominating element to their story.  There is nothing gratuitous about the fact that these two are indeed falling for one another and Lynskey and Christopher Abbott develop believable chemistry together.  The 35-to-19 year old age difference is handled quite respectfully within Koskoff’s screenplay.

The rest of the ensemble all give solid performances, especially John Rubenstein and Blythe Danner especially as Amy’s parents.  Koskoff creates and the fails to fully develop an interesting juxtaposition between Amy’s father, who she feels closer to but cannot communicate all that effectively with, and her mother, who has always been there for her, but comes off as overbearing and out of touch with her daughter’s emotions.  Through it all, Melanie Lynskey shines and is radiant on screen after all these years of strong supporting work, on television in Two And A Half Men”, and in films as diverse as Coyote Ugly, Ever After: A Cinderella Story, Shattered Glass, Flags Of Our Fathers, Away We Go, The Informant!, Win Win, Up In The Air, and the forthcoming The Perks Of Being A Wallflower.

Modeled after a Marx Brothers song and not the 1982 Phil Collins album, Hello I Must Be Going deals with emotions both real and exaggerated, problems both of the elite and down on their luck.  Moreover, Todd Louiso’s film provides us with a believable, tangible, against-all-odds love story that carries a bittersweet but realistic journey for both involved.  Better than you would expect, Hello I Must Be Going is a good and winning film which may finally bring long overdue acclaim and attention to an actress we all should be experiencing on a much more regular basis.

SHOULD I SEE IT?
YES
  • Melanie Lynskey deserves to be a bigger name and if enough people see it, Hello I Must Be Going could be the catalyst for that.
  • While it does fall into some independent movie trapdoors, Hello has a rewarding script and good, talented actors making us care about what they care about.  The film is an easy watch, handles the possible salaciousness of its love story without provocation, and is quite enjoyable.
  • People who are familiar with Lynskey or seek out independent films, will find this romantic comedy different than the standard fare.  That is a good thing.
NO
  • I can think of a handful of moviewatching friends who will complain about the folk singer montage of depression and loneliness, the slightly too quaint dialogue, and the “Alright, we’re done!” conclusion to the proceedings and throw up their hands.  I can only ask that you look deeper, but those who complain the loudest about indie movies, may have some fodder to complain more.  Sorry.
  • Despite how it is handled, the idea of a 35-year-old and a 19-year-old falling in love and having a relationship, unbeknownst to both families, may seem too ludicrous to accept; or, alternatively, may strike some as offensive.
  • Not as polished as the big budget, mainstream romantic dramedys, Hello I Must Be Going may not be of interest to people who only watch the Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson-style romantic comedies of the last decade or so.  This is absolutely not that kind of film.