Review: 'Hello I Must Be Going'
Posted September 13, 2012
In her mid-30s, recently divorced, depressed and jobless, Amy is like an overgrown, sulky teen when she returns to live in her parents' suburban home in Hello I Must Be Going (*** out of four; rated R; opens Friday in select cities). She sleeps in, talks back to her parents and refuses to change out of a stained and ratty T-shirt.
Mostly, Amy is hiding out at her parents' well-appointed house, looking for refuge and a safe haven from her overwhelming sadness.
So, given her lapse back into adolescence, it's not surprising that Amy (Melanie Lynskey) embarks on an affair with a 19-year-old family friend after both attend a dinner and endure embarrassing comments from their parents. The two merely trade glances and their joint misery is clinched.
Sensitive Jeremy (Christopher Abbott) is carrying out the dreams of his overly involved mom (Julie White). He is an actor mostly for her benefit and doesn't dissuade her from the misconception that he's gay, because he feels it makes his mother happy.
Deftly written and terrifically acted, this comic coming-of-age indie chronicles the growing pains at several stages of life: Amy's rudderless thirties, Jeremy's confused late teens as well as the frustrated yearnings of Amy's sixtyish mother Ruth (Blythe Danner). Danner gives an exceptionally good, raw and uptight performance in a darker role than she usually gets.
In the wake of being blindsided after her self-absorbed lawyer husband David (Dan Futterman) insisted on a divorce, Amy's self-worth is shaken and she struggles just to get out of bed.
Short on friends, her only good relationship -- before meeting Jeremy -- is with her taciturn father (John Rubinstein). But with his sweet charm and droll sense of humor, Jeremy helps Amy out of her desolate funk. Because he's the stepson of a major client of Amy's dad (and Jeremy's mom believes he's gay), they keep their relationship a clandestine one.
Oddly, two lower-budget independent films out this week involve 35-year-old adults pairing up with sensitive 19-year-olds. In each, the actors share a surprisingly palpable chemistry. Does this say something about the ubiquity of arrested development in early middle age these days?
Lynskey brings dimension and intelligence to a role that might have come off as unsympathetic, given her privileged state and directionlessness. She and Jeremy are about the same age emotionally. In addition to the believable connection between Amy and Jeremy, Amy's relationship with her parents feels credible in its complexity.
This gently satirical comedy and finely wrought tale showcases the talents of the wide-eyed Lynskey, who last made a strong impression as a deadbeat mother in Win/Win. An oft-seen character actress who made her debut opposite Kate Winslet in 1994's Heavenly Creatures, Lynskey proves she can headline a film here. She brings a sympathetic blend of humor, dignity and naturalness to the role.
While it's too hastily and neatly resolved, Hello I Must Be Going is a funny, well-written, involving and emotionally honest tale.
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