Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Louiso/Koskoff's HELLO I MUST BE GOING gives Melanie Lynskey her best role in years

The empty nest syndrome -- and how, these days in particular, that nest is filling up again -- gets a good working-over in the quiet, unusual and very interesting film, HELLO I MUST BE GOING. If you know movies and the Marx Brothers, the title should ring a bell on one level, for there's a father-daughter bond here around Groucho and his comedic siblings. On another level, however, the title acts as a lovely and precise explanation. The first word could be addressed by our leading character to herself, as she discovers a bit more of her identity; the rest involves her quest to move out of her parents' home and on with her life, after a divorce that clearly has left her more than a little unsettled and unsure of herself.

Directed by Todd Louiso (shown at left), a fellow we most often think of as actor (recently seen in the excellent A Bag of Hammers), from a screenplay by fledgling writer and also an actress, Sarah Koskoff (shown below), the movie is at once oddball and endearing -- a combination rather often seen at the Sundance Film Festival. Sure enough, the movie opened this year's festival, where it received mixed notices and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize.
TrustMovies is uncertain just why the film drew those mixed

responses, as his was pretty thoroughly positive -- the reason being the combination of writing that is particularly well-observed concerning character, direction that never pushes that endearing quality (or anything else) but simply tells the story as swiftly and economically as possible, and performances that could not be more on the mark yet never descend into rote or cliché.

The film's cast has been chosen quite well, with each performer -- except one -- obviously used for his or her "known" qualities. These would include our leading lady, Melanie Lynskey (above), who is always good but here has the kind of rich and hefty role (she is on-screen practically all the time) that allows us to learn a great deal about her character. Sad and not seemingly adept at much of anything, she appears quite the lost girl. As we learn more, however, her disparate pieces pull together nicely.

As her pushy, too-helpful mom and her passive dad, Blythe Danner and John Rubinstein are both excellent. Ms Danner, above, slowly reveals the layers of pain and hurt that have built up over decades, and she turns from a kind of monster into something quite human. Mr. Rubinsitein, on the other hand does the opposite -- moving quietly from a good-guy dad to someone masking his selfishness and anger none too well.

This family has some interesting neighbors, in particular a therapist mom (Julie White, at a slightly lower key than I am used to seeing and hearing her, and this is welcome indeed) and her just-about-to-graduate-from-high-school son. The latter is played by the one "unknown" in this bunch, an actor named Christopher Abbott (shown above, and whom I do not remember from Martha Marcy May Marlene but now can be seen in HBO's sitcom Girls). Mr. Abbott's role is pivotal here -- for reasons that would be a spoiler to divulge -- and this young actor is phenomenally good in it. The character he creates is unlike any I have seen. He's an original, and so it would seem is young Abbott, who should soon be quickening minds and pulses, if not setting hearts ablaze.

I could go into more plot -- and more critique -- but this is a sweet and quiet little movie best savored on your own. Distributed via Oscilloscope Laboratories and running 95 minutes, Hello I Must Be Going opens in New York (at the Angelika Film Center) and Los Angeles (at The Landmark) this Friday, September 7. You can view all the currently scheduled playdates, with cities and theaters included by clicking here.

Photos are from the film itself, except 
for that Mr. Louiso (by George Pimentel
courtesy of and Ms. Koskoff 

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