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April 5, 2018

Hello I Must Be Going

by Franz Patrick


Hello I Must Be Going (2012)
★★ / ★★★★

It has been three months since Amy (Melanie Lynskey) decided to move back to her parents’ home, but her depression does not seem to be going away. On the contrary, it appears to be deteriorating: she sleeps till noon, wears the same tee-shirt, and has no plan at all on how to get back on her feet. Ruth (Blythe Danner) begs her daughter to at least attempt to make it look like she has life under control because an important client and his family are coming over for dinner. If the client chose to do business with Amy’s father, Stan (John Rubinstein), her parents would be secured financially. There is trouble, however, when the client’s stepson, Jeremy (Christopher Abbott), and Amy hit it off immediately: he is nineteen and she is in her mid-thirties.

“Hello I Must Be Going,” written by Sarah Koskoff and directed by Todd Louiso, comes off as a self-conscious story about a woman whose life is in shambles. For the most part, it muffles its quirks instead of standing by them and so when they inevitably seep through, they appear during the inappropriate times and there is an awkwardness in the material. It gives off the impression that it is not comfortable as a drama and not quite fit for a comedy.

It is an uphill battle to like the main character. At first, I pegged her as a classic attention-seeker, from throwing up in cars to supposedly fainting on the driveway. We learn that she is going through a divorce—one that her husband initiated. Although she has the right to be sad, it is difficult to buy into her defeatist attitude. I like Lynskey as an actress because she oozes adorable, but the scenes of her going through a would-be crippling depression might be considered offensive. There is a difference between being depressed and acting like a brat. In the early scenes, the writing fails to hone in on Amy’s state of mind. Much of what is experienced is superficial behavior. As the pictures goes on, though, the protagonist is more tolerable because the changes she goes through are believable, coupled with Lynskey’s sheer charm.

Despite the vast age difference, Amy and Jeremy’s relationship is not creepy. It works as the heart of the picture because through their interactions, in one way or another, they learn to be more mature. Abbott is particularly good in conveying the darker parts of Jeremy, like the scene in which he allows Jeremy to express the frustration and anger of what is expected of a son with a talent for the arts. I wished there had been more fruitful scenes between he and his mother, providing us vivid details on the dynamics of their relationship.

It is unfortunate, however, that some scenes are drowned by songs that neither comment on what is going on indirectly between the lovers nor as a tool to solidify a specific tone. The songs by Laura Veirs are not bad, but they distract and take us out of the experience. When a scene should have been played silent to bring out the emotions, it is plagued by a folk song’s ruminations. Each time the soundtrack is featured, we are reminded that we are watching an independent film rather than a story about mourning, being in pain, and rising from the ashes.

The character I wanted to get to know most in “Hello I Must Be Going” is Amy’s mother. Ruth is such a firecracker. There are times when she takes the words right out of my mouth and tells her daughter what is needed to be expressed. There is a subplot involving Ruth and Stan but it is introduced so late in the picture that we couldn’t care less about it. It shows that the screenplay requires serious adjustments.

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