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Hello I Must Be Going: 2012 Sundance

By Natalia Lusinski · February 2, 2012

Hello I Must be Goingwill, hopefully, be coming to theaters soon.

It is an everyday concept – 35-year-old Amy (Melanie Lynskey), post-divorce,having to move back in with her parents and learn to find herself again – yet it is grounded in reality, which makes you relate to and care about the characters.

At first, it is difficult to see what is at stake. But once you become aware of Amy’s internal pain – her desperation, isolation, and loneliness – you feel for her and are empathetic, no matter if your marriage just ended, you lost your job, moved back in with your parents as a thirty-something-year-old, or all three. The simplicity of the story quickly becomes juxtaposed by the depth of it in Sarah Koskoff’s well-written script.

On top of which, Amy’spredicament is very identifiable in these economically trying times. If the catalyst for moving back in with our parents (dubbed the Boomerang Generation) is not divorce or job loss, it could be a myriad of other reasons – depression, taking care of an ailing relative, etc. Some of us move back home, others (like me) couch-surf and live with various friends while regaining our economic and emotional stability. In any case, anyone of us could be in Amy’s situation in a moment’s notice.

As a side note, “the film displays the reality of emotions after divorce very well,” my divorcee friend sitting next to me said. He added that it was one of few movies to do so, the way it conveyed one’s state of mind – the loneliness, the abandonment, the failure – and grounds divorce in reality. As a non-divorcee, I think the post-divorce emotions that Amy displays don’t warrant a divorce for us to feel them with her. The current state of the economy and jobless rates are enough for people to be able to relate to Amy’s situation.

Through the course of the film, Amy begins to live again, as trite as that sounds, via a romantic relationship with a 19-year-old son of a family friend, Jeremy (Christopher Abbott). Through him, Amy realizes how to be loved the way she was not by her ex. (This sounds much more saccharinthan the way it is played out.)

Before seeing the movie, the idea of Amy having a fling/romantic relationship with a guy who is barely legal sounded cliché. However, once you see Amy and Jeremy together, how lost each one of them is in their lives and the way they benefit one another, you buy it.

Amy and Jeremy’s relationship begins when he kisses her in an empty room in her parent’s house after each of their parents have managed to embarrass them at a dinner party. Initially, the kiss seems a bit unrealistic, but soon you find yourself believing it, how each character’s loneliness attracts them to one another and they find what they’ve been missing. At one point, Jeremy even comments on how similar Amy is to him, implying she still has to grow up, too. He is not incorrect as they are both looking for themselves, him about to go off to college and leave his childhood acting career behind, her needing to regain her independence, heal from her divorce, and pursue her art dreams again.

At times, Amy and Jeremy seem overt with their emotions, but you accept it because of the characters’ vulnerable states – as well as the actors’ performances and chemistry with one another.

Overall, it is nice to see Melanie Lynskey’s comedic side coupled with her dramatic one. Kudos to Director Todd Louiso and Director of Photography Julie Kirkwoodfor keeping the camera on Amy and the other characters a beat or two longer so we feel their emotions as they do.

The film is also sprinkled with great comedy mined from being an adult living at home again – yet being treated like a child: having to sneak out to see a guy, your parents wanting to know your every move, etc. These, in addition to the wonderful and symbolic non-verbal funny scenes – like the garage gate sensor beeping every time Amy sneaks out of the house late at night to go see Jeremy – make the story even more authentic and well-rounded.

However, that said, in the movie, Amy has already been living back home for three months. Though there is parent-child-relationship humor exhibited in the movie, I feel there is natural  opportunity for more.

Also, since it has been a few months, we do not learn enough about Amy’s married, work, and pre-moving-back-home life (except through a bit of exposition), which I think would help – so we could be increasingly sympathetic for Amy and also better understand the level of her mother’s frustration toward her.

Blythe Danner does a wonderful job as Amy’s narcissistic mother, Ruth, who does not quite get Amy – and who takes several opportunities to tell her she is not where she should be, i.e., married with children (as though that will solve everything). As a fellow artistic person around Amy’s age, I would have to agree that Ruth’s view on Amy’s life rings true for me as well as several of my starving artist friends in L.A. whose parents do not quite understand our creative pursuits, either. The one disparity between Ruth and Amy’s relationship is that Amy never quite seems to address all of Ruth’s insults to warrant their relationship being completely fine by movie’s end.

Stan, Amy’s dad (John Rubenstein), plays a nice foil to Ruth; he is the one constant in Amy’s life who believes in her when no one else does and their Marx Brothers bond works well to convey their relationship.

Julie White is also terrific as Jeremy's mom, Gwen, and exemplifies the great reality in that she is a therapist and knows more about her patients’ insights than she does her son’s. I think this is very apropos in today’s society, also.

All in all, Hello I Must be Going should not be missed. With its touching story and talented cast, the film is a good wake-up call no matter which character’s shoes we find ourselves in.