Under normal circumstances, Hello I Must Be Going would be just another forgettable indie time-waster about stunted adulthood. Actor-turned-director Todd Louiso, who also helmed the similarly themed Rushmore retread The Marc Pease Experience, does everything in his limited power to make the film just that. He tells the story, written by his wife Sarah Koskoff, in bland shallow-focus closeups; he marks every change in mood with an indie-rock-scored montage; and he lazily rolls out familiar scenes, from the awkward blind date to the reunion with friends who haven’t evolved since high school. But the one saving grace is his casting of Melanie Lynskey in a rare but deserved lead role.
Since debuting in Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures in 1994, Lynskey has watched her co-star Kate Winslet go on to acclaim and stardom while she’s been stuck playing an endless procession of put-upon wives and wisecracking best friends, becoming best known as Charlie Sheen’s stalker on Two and a Half Men. Here, she rescues her character, Amy, from being simply mopey and self-absorbed as she recovers from a divorce by crashing at her parents’ house and dating the 19-year-old son of one of her father’s clients. What could have been a frustrating inability to pull her life together becomes a believable conflict between the fear and the necessity of moving on, an inner conflict suggested by the play of reactions on Lynskey’s face. She deserves better material, and if Louiso’s film brings her any closer to getting it, then it won’t have been a total waste of time.