“Sometimes it’s easier to be what other people want you to be rather than fight it.” — Jeremy
At what age are we supposed to be grown-ups? What is that magical moment when we suddenly have our stuff together and can show the world that we got this thing covered? Really, there is no definitive point at which all the pieces fall into place. The fact is, some of us just take longer than others to figure out who and what we want to be, and some never figure it out. In the film Hello, I Must Be Going, Amy (Melanie Lynskey, Two and a Half Men) is a woman who has spent most of her life pleasing others, until she meets a kindred spirit who helps her see that sometimes people will be disappointed with the choices you make, but that’s no reason not to make them.
Amy is once again living at home with her folks while she goes through a painful divorce. Ruth (Blythe Danner, Meet The Parents), is Amy’s hard to please mother, and doesn’t think Amy can ever do anything right. Stan (John Rubenstein, Red Dragon) is her disengaged workaholic father, who appeases both women. At a very important dinner party for Amy’s lawyer father, she meets Jeremy (Christopher Abbott, Martha Macy May Marlene), the son of the VIP couple her parents are trying to impress. Even though Jeremy is much younger than Amy, the two have an immediate connection and begin a secret affair. Jeremy listens to her like no one else does and allows Amy to be herself, instead of living the charade that is her life.
Shame on me for typecasting Melanie Lynskey in the role of the sweet, if slightly psychotic Rose from Two and a Half Men; she is a seasoned actress whose first major role came at the age of 16 in Peter Jackson’s film Heavenly Creatures. In Hello, I Must Be Going, Lynskey is an unconventional leading lady — a natural beauty with a shapely figure and an attractive face not touched by the surgeon’s scalpel. Her performance is both powerful and vulnerable. Amy is a quirky people pleaser who did all the ‘right’ things her parents wanted her to do — which included marrying the man now divorcing her after having an affair with one of her friends.
For all us misfits who have taken our time finding our way and are far too concerned with what others think, this film truly resonates. Through Amy’s plight we see just how hard it is to gently let down the people we love, those who want what’s best for us but really have no idea who we are. Amy is a strange soul, a sweet weirdo, that kid in high school who was uncomfortable in her own skin. She isn’t much different as an adult, and this is the main contention between her and her mother. When she meets Jeremy, who has all the awkward charm of a boy growing into a man, Amy sees someone much like herself, a kindred spirit who is just as eccentric as she is.
Christopher Abbott has a subtle confidence about him that is very appealing on screen. As Jeremy, he and Amy have a comfortable rapport, despite their differing ages. Jeremy also has his own life to sort out — the former child star has graduated to a working adult actor, and panics at the thought of continuing in a career he hates. He is only able to admit this to Amy, and like her, is fearful of disappointing a mother who credits Jeremy with saving her life after she divorced his father (no pressure there).
Writer Sarah Koskoff was told that she should make Jeremy a typical nineteen year old teenager — obsessed with his smart phone, and texting at every opportunity — but she wanted him to be an old soul. Amy is in a vulnerable position and a ‘typcal’ teen, at least how we envision teens today, would’ve seemed as if he was scamming Amy — and Koskoff wanted no part of that. These two unlikely lovers don’t have a seedy relationship; Amy is not a predator and Jeremy isn’t looking to put a notch in his belt by bedding an older woman. They have genuine feelings for each other and are just what the other needs at this point in their lives.
Blythe Danner and John Rubenstein are great as Amy’s parents, a couple with two very different agendas in a marriage that is all style and no substance. Ruth is overbearing to both her daughter and husband, and Stan has neither the desire nor the courage to stand up to her. He has simply resigned himself to the role of the buffer between mother and daughter. Julie White (Transformers), plays Jeremy’s well-meaning mum Gwen, the former actress living vicariously through her son’s budding career. Although her part is a small one, White is solid, as she almost always is in any role she takes on.
Hello, I Must Be Going is directed by Todd Louiso, and we find out in the special features that he worked closely with writer Koskoff, and it shows. This film is a labor of love for them both, with endearing characters we care about, but most importantly can relate to all too well.
The beautiful Connecticut setting of Hello, I Must Be Going, is Presented in 1.85:1 standard definition. The shooting schedule was only three weeks, but the quality of the film does not suffer because of it. The Dolby 5.1 audio, highlights a great soundtrack by Laura Veirs, her unique music is the perfect match for Koskoff’s quirky and moving film.
Hello, I Must Be Going is one of those films that keeps getting better the more you think about it. This could be because I know all too well what it feels like to be afraid to take a chance and work towards a dream, but it’s also because of the wonderful performances by actors who seem to understand that for most of us, being a weirdo is our natural state…and nothing to be ashamed of.