Thursday, August 02, 2012

“Hello I Must Be Going” – Movie Review



This week in the final session of my movie class, we saw the romantic comedy that opened the Sundance Film Festival,  “Hello I Must Be Going”, starring Melanie Lynskey and Christopher Abbott.


When a recently divorced woman moves in with her parents, friction with her mother develops – but when she meets a much younger man, will he help mend her broken heart or only serve to complicate matters further?


Amy (Lynskey) is going through a pretty tough time right about now – in the process of a divorce, she has returned home to live with her parents in their expansive Connecticut house. In the throes of a massive depression due to her current situation, she has been sleeping late, not dressing and refusing to leave the house. At the urging of her mother (Blythe Danner), Amy makes an effort to re-integrate herself into society by going shopping and trying to make new friends, as painful as this may be for her. Attending a dinner party thrown by her parents, Amy meets Jeremy (Abbott), a much younger man who is pursuing an acting career.

Despite feeling uneasy over the age difference, Amy nevertheless permits herself to engage in a torrid affair with Jeremy. However, since he also lives in the nearby house of his parents and is the son of someone with whom her lawyer father has to do business, they both must keep their romance a secret. Further necessitating the secrecy is the fact that Jeremy’s mother is incorrectly convinced that her son is gay – not entirely sure how she drew that conclusion, Jeremy nevertheless decides to allow her to continue her fantasy merely because it seems to please her for some reason. Meanwhile, Amy’s brother and his wife attempt to fix her up with a friend who’s also divorced.

Eventually, it comes out that Jeremy and Amy have a friendship, but it is believed to be platonic. As the business deal of Amy’s father appears nearing a crescendo, she and Jeremy find that they are increasingly reliant on each other. Fearing that the intensity of their relationship may negatively influence her father’s business deal, she breaks it off with Jeremy, only to later realize that their feelings for each other are genuine. With Jeremy now trying to move on with his life, can Amy somehow manage to win him back – and in so doing, prevent any problems from ruining her father’s lucrative business deal?


If you are a Marx Brothers fan as I am, then you know exactly what the title of this movie is referencing; in fact, at various points throughout the film, the character of Amy is seen viewing various Marx Brothers classics as a sort of emotional comfort food. While “Hello I Must Be Going” has a well-constructed script with a realistic ending that makes perfect sense, the movie as a whole doesn’t stand up very well. At times, it seems a little on the bland side, perhaps because I sensed very little chemistry between the two leads; it was hard to understand why Jeremy would be interested in Amy since she came across as such a sad sack and dressed in a rather dowdy manner, in addition to exuding a vibe that suggested she simply didn’t want to be bothered.

I think the character of Amy is what bothered me most about the movie because I felt that she was just dug so deeply into her depression that I found it to be difficult to root for her. In some ways, she seemed self-sabotaging and unwilling to actively participate in essentially what amounted to saving her own life – it almost appeared that she was awaiting some Act Of God to salvage her. To a degree, that was what happened when Jeremy fell into her lap, but she still spent an inordinate amount of time feeling sorry for herself. Does that accurately portray the way a person suffering from clinical depression truly behaves? Maybe, but if so, then she doesn’t exactly make for a terribly sympathetic character.

Following the screening, our instructor interviewed the movie’s two stars, Melanie Lynskey and Christopher Abbott. Abbott talked about his experiences auditioning and his background coming from Connecticut to seek an acting career in New York City. He was asked about his work on the HBO show “Girls” and said that the strong reaction to the program took him somewhat by surprise; recently, he has been shooting episodes for its second season and maintains that the cast and crew seem unfazed by its popularity. Lynskey, who is originally from New Zealand, talked a little bit about the time she spent working on the CBS sit-com “Two And A Half Men”. Contrary to the behavior Charlie Sheen exhibited last year, she said that Sheen was very normal during the time that the two worked together – he always showed up on time, never missed a day and knew his lines as well as any other actor on the set.



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