Amy (played by underused actress Melanie Lynskey) hasn’t left the house in three months – and it’s not even her house. The mid-30s, childless woman has moved back in with her parents after falling into a deep depression when her husband blindsids her with his request for a divorce. Her hypercritical mother (Danner) has gone into overdrive as she frets about Amy’s “failure” and senses that her own dream of her husband (Rubinstein) clinching one last deal and then retiring in order to take her on a trip around the world may not come to fruition. Her father, for his part, is quietly protective, but the two bond mostly in silence while watching Marx Brothers’ movies on late-night television (hence the film’s title). During a dinner party thrown by her parents, Amy meets 19-year-old Jeremy (Abbott, currently in the cast of Girls). A mad kiss turns into secret rendezvous, and despite her protestations about getting involved with a young college boy, Amy flourishes, as if Jeremy’s attention is just the antidepressant she needs to pull her out of her slump.
As a longtime fan of Lynskey’s coy yet subtle acting skills (Heavenly Creatures, The Informant!), which hardened into stereotypical kookiness after years on Two and a Half Men, it’s great to see her cast here in the leading role. Apart from the reliable flourishes that Danner brings to any project she’s in, Hello I Must Be Going is all Lynskey’s showcase. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t give her enough to work with. The script by Sarah Koskoff has some good lines of dialogue, but very little narrative drive or dramatic progression. Although this Sundance Institute-nurtured film is not exactly sunny, it’s a lot less gloomy than director Louiso’s last film about a marriage’s end, Love Liza, which stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as a man who starts huffing gasoline to ease his sorrow after the death of his wife. Amy’s sadness is palpably real, but Hello I Must Be Going has none of Love Liza’s darkness nor any Marx Brothers zaniness. The film is worth seeing for the performances, but the drama is a nonstarter.