Review: Hello I Must Be Going
Where have you been, Melanie Lynskey? Lynskey and Kate Winslet co-starred in Heavenly Creatures in 1994, and while Winslet's career has been extremely easy to follow, Lynskey has been a challenge to find on the big screen. She had a delightful role in Ever After, but then made sporadic and brief appearances as The Wife or The Girlfriend or in Up in the Air, The Sister. There have been few chances to see her in a lead role until now, with Hello I Must Be Going, and her performance is so strong that it seems ridiculous she isn't in the lead more often.
Lynskey and Blythe Danner carry Hello I Must Be Going -- they take a storyline that often treads familiar ground and blow it out of the water with two amazing performances. Lynskey plays Amy, a thirtysomething woman living -- excuse me, staying -- with her parents after a very messy divorce. Her mother (Danner) badgers her to buy more clothes, go out on dates and perhaps even take an antidepressant. (The movie may be worth watching just to hear Danner pronounce "antidepressant" as thought it were French.)
Lynskey has trouble leaving the house, but manages to get herself into a nice dress and survive a family dinner with potential clients who would boost her father's law practice so he could retire at last. The twist in the evening is 19-year-old Jeremy, the potential client's son, who is supposedly a gay vegan passionately pursuing an acting career, or so his mom says. He and Amy connect almost immediately, in more than one way, and that's where the story gains traction.
Lynskey is able to convey a great deal about her character through almost bizarre little facial expressions. She's supposedly in her mid-thirties, but when she's with Jeremy she comes across as more of a teenager -- in one sense, regressing to his age level, but in another, positively blooming after the exile in her parents' home. Christopher Abbott supports her well as young Jeremy.
The music in Hello I Must Be Going strikes a jarring and almost false note. At times, the songs are too twee; other times, they feel too on-the-nose. I felt like someone had seen (or heard) Juno too many times. On the other hand, the dialogue in Sarah Koskoff's script feels authentic and heartfelt, and the characters are well drawn. The plot itself is slight and offers no real surprises, but the movie is obviously meant to be a character study, and the story is secondary.
Hello I Must Be Going is a "nice little indie" -- a great choice for a weekend afternoon or a date movie. It would be forgettable if not for Lynskey and Danner. If you want to see two excellent performances from these women, find and watch this movie. It's playing at Arbor and Violet Crown Cinema this week ... and should you miss it in theaters, it would be just as good on home video.