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1994′s HEAVENLY CREATURES turned out to be the little flick that launched some big careers (along with helping turn New Zealand into a movie making mecca), This docudrama pushed director Peter Jackson out into the big studios and all the way to Middle Earth (with several Academy Awards along the way). Another CREATURES alum to go home with gold in a few years was Kate Winslet (with a stop on that doomed boat trip that became the second biggest box office hit of all time). And what about poor, young murderess Pauline? I’m speaking of the talented actress that shared the screen with Ms. W. Well, Melanie Lynskey has racked up a lot of screen time ( big and small screen ) since then. Many may know her as Charlie Harper’s stalker-ex in the TV sitcom smash “Two and a Half Men”. She’s also had some great supporting roles in several critically praised films like UP IN THE AIR, THE INFORMANT!, and the recent gem THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER. But she’s not had her date with Oscar…yet. But that may soon happen thanks to her wonderful work in HELLO I MUST BE GOING. And this is not a supporting role, not someone’s gal or pal. Ms. L is the lead here and carries this quirky comedy/ drama superbly.

Lynskey plays Amy Minsky, a woman who’s been knocked for a loop by her cheating husband. We meet her several months after a divorce and she is in quite a funk (to put it mildly). This thirty-something has moved back to her Connecticut family home, much to the consternation of her mother, Ruth (Blythe Danner) and soon-to-retire father Stan (John Rubinstein). Amy sleeps till noon and mopes about the rest of the day while wearing the same shorts and ratty red T-shirt. Ruth nags her to straighten up. Seems they’re going to have a big client over for Dinner (if Stan lands his account then he and Ruth can take that ” Gallivanting the Globe ” tour!). The big night arrives and the client, his wife, and 19-year-old actor son, Jeremy (Christopher Abbott) sit down for a meal. The conversation upsets Amy and she retreats to another room. Presently Jeremy enters this room and plants a passionate kiss on  the very surprised more-than-a-decade -older lady. Soon the two are sneaking out to indulge in passionate carnal encounters. Amy finally feels alive again. But is this a rebound fling or the real deal? Is she finally ready to move forward with her life?

After a few early scenes of Amy floundering at home ( he seems to move about in a thick fog), the film kicks in to be become a gentle comedy and an uplifting ” starting over ” fable. Lynskey’s a real charmer as she finally starts to stand-up for herself (and grow-up somewhat). Her scenes of rekindled passion are heart-warming and very funny (sneaking around like a teen after curfew, throwing pebbles at bedroom windows). Abbott’s very appealing as the sensitive, determined young lover (he’s going to crash through every age-barrier she throws at him). He’s at a crossroads also. After over a decade of acting, he may have lost the passion. Rubinstein is a delightful actor mostly known for his extensive TV works. His sympathetic Stan is a tender-hearted Poppa who still adores his little girl, but is at a loss trying to ease her pain. On the opposite end of the parenting spectrum is Danner’s Ruth. She’s sick and tired of the returned prodigal (darn this reverse empty nest !) and Mom’s dishing up a big helping of really tough love. But she’s not just playing a cranky spin on her feisty senior from the MEET THE PARENTS series or THE LUCKY ONE. Ruth’s had her share of crushed dreams that we learn of after she finally explodes at Amy. Kudos to Sarah Koskoff for a delightful script that never feels forced and to actor turned director Todd Louiso for guiding this talented cast and never letting the laughs get in the way of this story of ‘do-overs’. Oh, and if you’re wondering, those funny comedy brothers do indeed make an appearance. HELLO I MUST BE GOING is sweet romance that gives a terrific actress a chance to truly shine. To quote another song from ANIMAL CRACKERS, ” Hooray for Melanie Lynskey! “.

4 Out of 5 Stars

HELLO I MUST BE GOING screens exclusively in the St. Louis area at Landmark’s Tivoli Theatre

Jim Batts was a contestant on the movie edition of TV's "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" in 2009 and has been a member of the St. Louis Film Critics organization since 2013.

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