A 'Graduate' with a whiny 35-year-old

Melanie Lynskey as Amy, waiting for her divorce settlement in her parents' swanky home.
Melanie Lynskey as Amy, waiting for her divorce settlement in her parents' swanky home. (JUSTINA MINTZ)
Posted: September 22, 2012

The chief virtue of Todd Louiso's Hello I Must Be Going is that it provides an all too rare vehicle for Melanie Lynskey, who was Kate Winslet's partner in crime in Peter Jackson's great 1994 film Heavenly Creatures.

Lynskey, best known for her regular role in the sitcom Two and a Half Men, stars as Amy, a 35-year-old hiding out in her parents' swanky house as she goes through a divorce that has left her devastated. One gets the all too obvious impression that her parents (Blythe Danner, John Rubenstein) find her a disappointment; among her coping mechanisms is a secret affair with the 19-year-old son (Christopher Abbott) of her parents' friends, neighbors, and potential business partners.

Sarah Koskoff's play-it-safe script and Louiso's heavy-handed direction combine to kill the potential of Hello I Must Be Going (the title comes from a Marx Brothers number in Animal Crackers - Amy likes to watch old movies). The rich neighborhood of her parents is populated by aging power couples who have known Amy since her childhood - think Dustin Hoffman's exclusive neighborhood and its denizens in The Graduate.

So we have dinners and parties in sparsely furnished, impossibly neat houses, lots of wine sipping, and the shallow comments of the 1 percent (at least as imagined by an indie filmmaker). When is Amy going to snap out of it? When is she going to get a real job?

And from Amy: When are people going to understand me? When am I going to understand myself? When am I going to be happy?

If only Amy, daughter of privilege and in line for a nice divorce settlement, had shown her true, original personality by going off in a fresh direction not dictated by previous indie films of angst. The mind-numbingly predictable, but admittedly watchable Hello I Must Be Going needed less whine and more surprise.

Hello I Must Be Going ** (out of four stars)

Starring Melanie Lynskey, Christopher Abbott, Blythe Danner. Directed by Todd Louiso. Rated R (profanity, sexual content). 1 hr. 35.

G. Allen Johnson is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.

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