Thursday marked the beginning of 2012′s Sundance Film Festival, with a small handful of premiers that will eventually ramp up to the deluge of screenings and events in the coming days.  Among the films that premiered was Todd Luiso’s Hello, I Must Be Going, a cute little indie romance flick that’s just about what you’d expect from an “indie” film at Sundance.  For more on the film, check out the rest of the review after the jump…

UPDATE: Check out the video review of Hello I Must Be Going by Brendan Walsh:

Hello, I Must Be Going

  • Director: Todd Luiso
  • Screenwriter: Sarah Koskoff
  • Starring: Melanie Lynskey, Blythe Danner, Christopher Abbot, John Rubenstein, Dan Futterman, Jimmi Simpson

 Synopsis:

Recently divorced, 35 year old Amy is forced to move back into her parents’ home.  With Amy depressed and demoralized, her parents try to motivate her to kick start her life the way only parents can, by passive aggressively poking and prodding her. But things begin to turn around for Amy when she finds romance with the teenage son of a client with whom her father is trying to strike a deal, so he can retire.  But can their relationship last in spite of their age difference and the expectations of their parents, or is it merely a codependent infatuation?

 The Good:

  • Melanie Lynskey – This kiwi actress is simply adorable.  She’s got those big, round eyes that just make you fall in love with a girl on screen.  But she deserves much more credit than just being a cute girl, because she displays a great emotional connection with her character, and a presence in the moment of each scene that grounds the entire film.  She is the heart and soul of this movie, and carries its weight very effectively.
  • John Rubenstein – Rubenstein is one of those character actors with over a hundred credits to his name, that you sort of recognize, but not really.  But he brings a great deal of delicate care and compassionate to his role as a father in this film.  He represents the kind of late-adult idealism, with the aspirations of having a successful, well adjusted child and an adventurous retirement that’s just too good to be true.  By the end of the film, he stands as the only true representation of reality in this story.

The Bad:

  • Blythe Danner - I’m strongly conflicted about placing her in “The Bad” part of this review, because Ms. Danner actually delivers a perfectly fine performance in this film, but I simply couldn’t ignore the fact that I felt like I could see how hard she was acting in this role.  She’s matronly, and does a good job of representing the kind of frustration an aging parent would have with a practically middle aged child who hasn’t gotten their life together.  But at times she’s a bit over the top, certainly more so than any of the other actors in this film.  This is not to discredit Danner as an actress, but I have similar problems with such prolific actresses as Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep.  Their performances just pull me out of the film.
  • No Style, No Substance - This film was shot on the Arri Alexa camera system, which has an extremely broad latitude, allowing for high detail in both high and low light settings, but is not employed to any significant extent in this film.  The one or two stylized shots have very little emotional effect.  Furthermore, the story is strikingly personal, but doesn’t stand as any kind of substantial statement to the human condition or even as a representation of marriage, divorce, or finding oneself.  It is a character study that doesn’t feel like it could have any especially relatable themes.

Overall:

Hello, I Must Be Going is just the kind of quiet feature that will likely have a small theatrical release, and a handful of accolades by those hip enough to the individuals involved with it, but doesn’t quite have the legs to reach mainstream audiences the way I wish all the films at the Sundance Film Festival would.  This week should be an opportunity for unique voices to reach wider audiences without the backing of major studios or other mainstream outlets.  However this film ends up feeling cliché and predictable as far as the “indie” genre is concerned.  I wouldn’t discourage people from seeing it, but if you happen to be at Sundance and want to see anything that sounds more prolific, I would encourage you to do exactly that.

 Rating: 6.5/10

Check out the video review of Hello I Must Be Going below:

Are you excited for Hello I Must Be Going?