Fans of HBO’s critically divisive series “Girls” should be curious to check out “Hello I Must Be Going,” a movie that channels Lena Dunham’s quirky, low-key style of storytelling. The movie even features Christopher Abbott, who plays a major role in “Girls.”
But like “Girls,” “Hello” is a significantly flawed though intriguing film that could have been improved in the hands of a more experienced writer. The film is directed by Todd Louiso and written by Sarah Koskoff, both of whom have more experience as actors, which might explain why the movie feels so confused and unsure of itself.
Melanie Lynskey stars as Amy, a 35-year-old woman who moves back home with her parents after a divorce leaves her heartbroken and adrift, unsure of what to do with her life. Though Lynskey is likable and charming, her character is immediately unsympathetic, as she spends her days moping around her parents’ huge, gorgeous mansion, neglecting to find a job or be productive in any way. Admittedly, Amy’s desperation to be a good daughter and not burden her aging parents is the only aspect of the film that feels natural and relatable.
Amy, and every character in the movie, is filthy rich, and the film indulges their problems without any sort of self-awareness or irony. This immediately distances the audience from the characters, especially Abbott’s character Jeremy, a college-aged young man who develops a relationship with Amy.
Jeremy is a strange character. He is not gay, yet tells his mother he is because he thinks she likes him better that way. The audience is supposed to sympathize with Jeremy and understand his longing for his mother’s approval, but his character borders on offensive. When there are so many young men legitimately struggling with their sexuality, Jeremy’s problems seem childish and even mean-spirited.
And yet, the film treats Amy and Jeremy’s relationship with an unwarranted sense of respect. Their romance lacks any sort of curiosity, fantasy or excitement, and the two actors have no chemistry. In spite of this, the film insists that Jeremy and Amy are star-crossed lovers, who need each other to grow and learn.
But there is nothing to learn from “Hello I Must Be Going.” By the end of the film, the characters act as if they have come a long way; as if they are better, stronger people. The film wants to believe it, but it simply isn’t true.
A version of this article appeared in the Sept. 6 print edition. Jeremy Grossman is film editor. Email him at email@example.com.
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