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Hello I Must Be Going (A Movie Review)

Hello I Must Be Going


Starring Melanie Lynskey, Blythe Danner, John Rubinstein, Julie White, Christopher Abbott, Jimmi Simpson, Dan Futterman, Damian Young, Sara Chase, Meera Simhan, Andrea Bordeaux, Greta Lee and Andreina Sosa-Keifer.

Screenplay by Sarah Koskoff.

Directed by Todd Louiso.

Distributed by Oscilloscope Laboratories.  95 minutes.  Rated R.

Hello I Must Be Going is a pretty good indie drama that is buoyed up to very good status by a spectacular, should-be-star-making turn in the lead role.

Of course, Melanie Lynskey has been putting together a pretty long string of stunning performances and her name is still far from a household word.  And most people who recognize her face know her from the atypical role of Charlie Sheen’s stalker-next-door Rose for several years on Two and a Half Men.

While she was terrifically funny in that role, that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Lynskey’s talents.  The New Zealand-born Lynskey (yes, that American accent she takes on so readily in her film and TV roles is not natural) was originally discovered by New Zealand director Peter Jackson – yes, the same one who went on to film The Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong and The Hobbit.  When she was just sixteen, Jackson cast Lynskey opposite another unknown named Kate Winslet in the critically acclaimed and surprisingly popular film Heavenly Creatures.  Since then, beyond the Two and a Half Men role, Lynskey has become an in-demand supporting actress, popping in and nearly stealing such diverse films as Up in the Air, The Informant!, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Away We Go, Win Win and many others.

Hello I Must Be Going is her first real shot at a leading role in a fairly large film since Heavenly Creatures back in 1994 (though she did have leads in the cheesy likes of Foreign Correspondents and The Cherry Orchard fairly early in her career).  Lynskey makes the most of the opportunity to shine.

As you can tell by the pretzel logic of the film’s title (which is a reference to a Groucho Marx routine, not the old Phil Collins album), Hello I Must Be Going is a slightly confused, occasionally contradictory, but mostly big-hearted look at modern dysfunction.

Lynskey plays Amy, a mid-30s manic-depressive who has been recently dumped by her husband (Dan Futterman) and is so desperate that she has to move in with her well-off parents (Blythe Danner and John Rubinstein).  Despite the fact that she has an antagonistic relationship with her mother and a slightly cold one with her dad – or perhaps because of it – Amy lays around the house all day long, never changing her clothes or going out.

She finally starts to slowly come out of the morass when she has a chance meeting with an old high-school acquaintance and falls into a sexual relationship of convenience with a much younger man (Christopher Abbott).  However, even these do not completely change her, they just open her up to giving herself another chance in life.

The direction is handled with solid craftmanship by Todd Louiso, a fellow character actor (High Fidelity) taking on his second job behind the scenes.  Needless to say he has a good touch with his fellow actors, and they all come out looking very good, even Danner, whose character could have been unsympathetic in less sensitive hands.  However, this is Lynskey’s film, and it rises and falls on her fine performance.

In the end, Lynskey is probably better than the film that she is in.  However, just her presence here raises the work of the whole enterprise and makes Hello I Must Be Going much stronger than its occasional indie pretentions and clichés suggest.  Lynskey achieves the difficult job of suffusing the entire film with her personality.  She is on the screen pretty much the entire length of the movie and never loses the audience’s complete attention.  Hopefully she won’t have to wait another decade to be offered another leading role.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2012 All rights reserved. Posted: September 7, 2012.

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