Title: Hello I Must Be Going
Director: Todd Louiso
Starring: Melanie Lynskey, Blythe Danner, Christopher Abbott, John Rubenstein, Julie White, Dan Futterman, Jimmi Simpson
Stella got her groove back in Jamaica, but there’s no reason to believe mojo can’t be recaptured in decidedly chillier climes, as “Hello I Must Be Going” aptly demonstrates. A fine and funny film balanced between heartbreak and uplift, this smartly observed tale of a thirtysomething divorcée fumbling toward a young adulthood at once more grounded and independent is anchored by a superlative turn from Melanie Lynskey.
The opening night selection at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, “Hello I Must Be Going” unfolds in suburban Connecticut, where Amy Minsky (Lynskey) has been holed up for three months in the home of her parents, Ruth (Blythe Danner) and Stan (John Rubenstein), licking her wounds over her break-up with her husband David (Dan Futterman). Uncertain over her future, she tumbles into an affair with Jeremy (Christopher Abbott), a 19-year-old actor who has a bit of stage work and a kid’s show under his belt. Things are additionally complicated by the fact that this relationship might endanger a business deal which would allow Amy’s father to finally retire.
Lynskey — who’s made her mark in a wide variety of supporting roles, often being called upon to fill in details and provide a snapshot of a rich offscreen life in but a few moments — has such a subtly expressive visage and engaged, always present demeanor, so it’s great to see her get a chance to put it to even more robust use in a lead role. She’s an ace with unfussy melancholic charm (of which there is still plenty here), but the true gift of her turn in “Hello I Must Be Going” lies in her full-on embrace of Amy’s fitful inner rhythms. The result is an utter delight, full of interesting choices — tears triggered by happiness, laughter from pain and tension — that convey vivid and recognizable truths about the steely grip of discontent and despair, and the giddy discombulation that can sometimes accompany finally shaking it off.
In fact, the acting is all quite good, and there’s a reason. Penned by Sarah Koskoff, wife of actor-turned-director Todd Louiso (“Love Liza”), the movie captures humanity and humor in equal measure — but always rooted in its characters, and neither contrived “wacky” situations nor what it believes viewers wish to see. Koskoff and Louiso invest in the differences in the relationships Amy has with her parents (she’s closer to her father), which in turn smartly inform an audience’s sense of the (offscreen) choices that Amy has made that have led her to this particular moment. After about 95 minutes she must be going, of course, but by the end of one’s time with her they’ll appreciate the fact that she stopped by to say “Hello.”
Written by: Brent Simon