Melanie Lynskey might just have played her greatest role ever in Hello I Must Be Going. Amy (Lynskey) suddenly has divorce thrusts upon her when her husband decides to leave her for another woman. She moves back into her parents’ home and the film starts after three months of her moping around their home wearing the same old clothes. The story really begins to pick up when her mother (Blythe Danner) asks her to attend a dinner they are hosting for a possible client her father is trying to pick up. Her mother means well but does not help Amy therapeutically in the slightest. The dinner proves to be a complete disaster for Amy as her mother exploits her personal problems for the benefit of the dinner. Stating things about her divorce, her apparent love of wine and spewing out that Amy would eat anything you put in front of her. Her mom is kind of a bitch, but you still like her. Fortunately for Amy, the client’s son is in attendance and feels a very similar fate with his family. He also blushes in the face as his mother boasts about her son’s blossoming acting career and the table begins to sing in unison the song to some commercial he did years ago.
She flees the table to catch her breath in the other room. The chemistry is immediate between the two, as he finds her in the other room, away from the rest of the group. The only problem is… he is only 19. The film builds around Amy and Jeremy’s (Christopher Abbott) love affair but ultimately is centered around Amy discovering herself. It can be really depressing living with parents again, and being a fresh divorcee could only have made it worse. As a viewer, we are thrust into a life that few may know about. Seeing the reality of someone’s life falling apart is not pretty, but this film shows beautifully the awkward, painful moments in her life. There is a brutal scene between Amy and her mother that stirs a lot of emotions and reveals some thoughts about Amy that she never knew her mother felt. As Amy states in one point in the film, “Where is bottom? Where the fuck is mother-fucking bottom!?” and as a viewer, you can’t agree more as she spirals out of control toward the end. Fear not though, she comes through it and begins her crawl back to the top in the end and this is what makes it tearfully brilliant.
She is made to feel like a teenager again when she finally gives in and has the affair with Jeremy. She is sneaking out of her parent’s home late at night to have sex in the back of their car and smoke pot in the park, all the while getting to know each other. She learns what it is like to have someone who truly wants to listen to her. It’s in this relationship that she is finally able to stand up to her ex and claim independence. I’m sure he wanted her back at that point, but she was more confident now and as a viewer we feel proud for her. Lynskey shows the full range of human emotion in this film and all the while remaining completely believable and truthful to the character. This is not a film that should be overlooked. It’s a small indie, so it may be hard to track down in some cities, but do not miss your chance if it comes to your town.
Lynskey was not the only talent in the film either. Blythe Danner plays a very committed wife, which can give way to her obvious signs that she no longer wants to mother her daughter anymore. Abbott plays Jeremy very stoically and much more mature than any 19 year old you have probably ever met. Yet, that adds to his charm and lends the affair to be much more believable. Lastly, John Rubinstein plays Amy’s father, Stan, as the quiet and distant father figure. Always there for his daughter but few words could achieve what a simple pat on the back can do for her. All in all, it was a great cast which made this film so watchable.
For being a film about affairs, divorce and depression, Hello I Must Be Going is oddly cheerful and a breath of fresh air. The fact that Amy is possibly 15-20 years older than her lover does not come off as creepy or cradle-robbing in any sort. The complex family relationships and personal growth in which Amy go through are reason enough to sit down and watch this flick. Trust me, you will enjoy it.
I give Hello I Must Be Going 4 “Canadian flags” out of 5
by Angela Davis