Review: 'Hello I Must Be Going'

Review originally published January 20, 2012 as part of's coverage of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

The trappings of "Hello I Must Be Going" are all too familiar. After a painful divorce, miserable, jobless, 35-year-old Amy (Melanie Lynskey) returns to her successful parents home to try and figure things out. Her lawyer father must impress some new clients, and after an unplanned kiss at a dinner party, Amy is dragged into spending more time with the client's 19-year-old son, Jeremy (Christopher Abbott). As the rest of the family continues along in their successes, Amy and Jeremy begin to fall into a very grounding and saving love. What follows is a simple tale of the complications that arise when one arrives home floundering and directionless, as well as the grace and recovery that can be born out of that.

Melanie Lynskey tends to let her face do the talking in most scenes, and as such there's a great deal of eye-rolling and twitching which mostly reminded me of how self-centered you can get alone in a big house with a family who only barely notices you. Every interaction becomes a short one-act play wherein you are the main character, your actions invisible to others, your only objective to survive. But Amy's actions are not invisible to others, and as she and Jeremy secretly fall in love, and she squares off against her mother, the strangely introverted facial expressions simply become bizarre tics. Amy is floundering, directionless, and grasping at straws; though Jeremy is mature for his age, and she's young for hers, this relationship does not seem to be a forever love.

Blythe Danner, as the impatiently annoyed mother, single-handedly steals every scene she's in, whether it is oversharing at a dinner party or quietly criticizing under the guise of helpfulness. In one killer line, Danner calls Lynskey's character "uneducated," and immediately reveals this to mean she has a Liberal Arts degree and a "useless" Masters. Ah, mothers, where would our self esteem be without them. Danner has the majority of hilarious lines, but the script is peppered with other gags as we cringe along with Amy through awkward encounters and miserable dates.

Todd Louiso directs a script by Sarah Koskoff, both initially actors who turned to other pursuits.  As such, it's strange that the film has so many cheesy lines that end up over-played.  One remarkable highlight is the fantastic score and original music by Laura Veirs, so lilting and beautiful that the film benefits greatly. While there are laughs and plenty of them sprinkled throughout, "Hello I Must Be Going" is predictably sweet and ends up exactly where you think it might, safe and sound.

Grade: A-