There are few greater cinematic pleasures than watching a pair of actors at the top of their game. In 'Hello I Must Be Going,' Melanie Lynskey and Christopher Abbott give the sort of subtle, all-encompassing performances that serve as reminders that the best actors do a lot more than appear on magazine covers.
'Hello' tells the story of Amy (Melanie Lynskey), a 35-year-old divorcee living with her parents in Westport, Connecticut. She finds her life rejuvenated after having an affair with Jeremy (Christopher Abbott), the 19-year-old son of her father's business associate.
Lynskey has had small roles in a number of films, including 'Up in the Air' and 'Win Win.' In 'Hello,' she is asked to carry the movie, and does so dutifully, telling the story of her character with the smallest gesture or change in expression. One could imagine Lynskey going through the whole movie without saying a single word and selling the role perfectly, but when she is given dialogue, she knocks that out of the park, too.
Christopher Abbott is best known as Charlie from the Lena Dunham HBO series 'Girls.' Aside from perhaps Adam Driver, Abbott was the best thing on that show, running the gamut from dutiful boyfriend to unhinged maniac to disaffected playboy and back again.
Here Abbott takes on the role of a 19-year-old former child actor who is deceiving his family and doesn't want to act anymore. This could be a thoroughly grating character, but Abbott lacks any sort of vanity in his performance, bringing out the truly pathetic aspects of Jeremy. It's astounding for an actor to convince the audience to identify with his "problems," which include the burden of playing Walt Whitman in an upcoming theater production.
Many of the reviews for 'Hello I Must Be Going' have praised the work of Lynskey while painting the overall film as formulaic. It's inarguable that a few beats in the screenplay, written by Sarah Koskoff (and directed by Koskoff's husband, Todd Louiso) feel pat, but such criticism overlooks the fact that the film is a bit of a writing miracle, moving through a number of rooms, houses and the streets of downtown Westport (which itself is a character in the film) at such a brisk, unexpected pace.
More than anything, it's great to see a film centered on a female's wants and needs, rather than caring about the many ways that she can be of service to men. A tip of the hat to Lynskey, Koskoff, Louiso and Abbott for producing that rare unicorn of a movie: One that treats women as though they're living, breathing, thinking human beings.