[Review] – Hello I Must Be Going

26 Sep

Title: Hello I Must Be Going
Year: 2012
Director: Todd Louiso
Writer: Sarah Koskoff
Starring: Melanie Lynskey, Christopher Abbott, Blythe Danner
MPAA Rating: R, language and sexual content
Runtime: 95 min
IMDb Rating: 4.4
Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
Metacritic: 60

Todd Louiso is a guy probably known to most people for his supporting roles in films that are more than a decade old. In Jerry Maguire he was Chad, the nanny who listened to some sweet jazz, and four years after that he was Dick one of the three employees at Championship Vinyl in Stephen FrearsHigh Fidelity. Melanie Lynskey is an actress probably known to most people for her supporting role as Charlie Harper’s stalker neighbor, Rose, in CBS‘ crappy Two and a Half Men. Well, Mr. Louiso is also a director and Ms. Lynskey is a far better actress than what that show allows her. Enter Hello I Must Be Going, the new film from him and starring her that should do all the convincing to back up my statement.

It’s also yet another Sundance export I’m getting to watch, the third in a row, actually, and about the fifth in 10 days or so. This was the opening night selection for this year’s festival and it really is a nice little movie we have here, especially because of the absolutely terrific breakout performance Ms. Lynskey gives us. The character she plays is Amy, a young divorcée who’s forced by the circumstances of life to move back to her parents place in suburban Connecticut. She doesn’t know what will become of her life, totally lost and demoralized until she begins an affair with this 19 year-old guy that just brings back her joie de vivre, giving her a passion and an overall sense of purpose that had been missing in her.

This is a film that really does a lot with that premise, with that idea of this unconventional love story. It’s funny and it’s sexy, and, most of all, it’s just honest with the heavy emotions it deals with. A lot of that has to do with the performance of Ms. Lynskey playing this girl who’s just at a total crossroads in her life, she makes Amy a character that you just really like and gives this subtle and nuanced touch to her navigation of both the funny and the tragic in her life. Then there’s Blythe Danner as her mother, the incomparable Blythe Danner, she’s just a rock solid actress no matter the role and here she’s wonderful as always, doing some really small things with her performance that mean a whole lot for the movie as a whole, giving us a more complicated turn on the maternal figure she so often plays.

It’s just the sort of movie that you get pretty emotionally involved with, thanks to the debut screenplay from Sarah Koskoff, Mr. Louiso’s wife, the kind of film that always does fine work at getting us to care for the characters here quite a bit, something I really appreciated. It’s just sharp and it feels super fresh, it obviously feels kind of quirky in the way tiny indie movies  like this will many times feel, but it also easily transcends that label and is just a damn moving tale. I wasn’t expected Hello I Must Be Going to be this funny and this compelling, and I’m damn glad I got the chance to watch it.

I loved watching this strange relationship blossoming. I loved watching how for the guy, Jeremy, an actor, it kind of was like a love-at-first-sight sort of thing, how he’s decided to give the relationship his all even though there’s that considerable age difference that gives the just-heartbroken Amy some just trepidation. The performance by Christopher Abbott is actually really good here, too, because he plays a guy who from the get go seems just head over heels for Amy, who’s super unsure about getting into this, and his youthful passion and desire to make it work feels kind of contagious.

Everything here just clicked for me. It’s a coming-of-age tale centered on a woman in her 30’s and it works so damn well because of the wonderful New Zealander playing this woman. There are a handful of scenes in this movie that are just sublime because of her performance, and considering she’s in pretty much every single scene here, that’s something this film needed. Her charm just fills the screen up and she has this wonderful ability at giving us more than what was written. In her scenes with Mr. Abbott they have a chemistry that just really gets you to invest in them; in the scenes she has with her parents, especially opposite Ms. Danner, she’s just raw as hell, a naturalistic performance that makes us feel like we’re flies on the wall and it’s fantastic.

I haven’t seen Mr. Louiso’s other directorial efforts, though I have heard they aren’t particularly inspired. I think people either lied to me saying that or he just really stepped it up here. This film is just wonderfully observed and rich in so many neat ways and he shows a lot of talent as a director, the film probably gets better as it gets along which is something I always appreciate, plus he knows how to handle this material in a way that’s funny, sweet and yet never feels fake in any way whatsoever.

Ms. Lynskey really is the reason to see this movie, though. This really should put her on more people’s radars and get her bigger and better roles. From watching her play that thankless role in that crappy sitcom for nearly a decade I couldn’t have imagined she was this good, she’s a seriously underrated actress I will no doubt think about when doing my year-end 20 Best Female Lead Performances. Subtle and tender in her performance, she carries Hello I Must Be Going and makes it a film that’s most certainly worth your while.

Grade: B+


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