CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
Film Review: ‘Hello I Must Be Going’ Provides Well-Deserved Star Vehicle for Melanie Lynskey
CHICAGO – Melanie Lynskey is one of those effortlessly sublime character actresses who always seemed destined for stardom. At age 16, she made an astonishing film debut in Peter Jackson’s “Heavenly Creatures” opposite Kate Winslet. In the years that followed, she has proven adept at playing everything from a good-hearted stepsister (in “Ever After”) to a severely screwed-up mom (in “Win Win”).
Yet Todd Louiso’s “Hello I Must Be Going” is the first film to place Lynskey front and center, and it’s about time. As Amy, a 35-year-old divorcée who moves back in with her parents, Lynskey captures the agony of a grown woman whose directionless life has caused her to become stagnant in the dependency of adult adolescence. While her father, Stan (John Rubinstein), overwhelms her with unconditional support, her mother, Ruth (Blythe Danner), grumbles about the liberal arts degree that went nowhere and the doubts she harbors about her daughter’s future.
|Read Matt Fagerholm’s full review of “Hello I Must Be Going” in our reviews section.|
This is the sort of flawed protagonist that has become commonplace in Hollywood, thanks in large part to the tremendous success of Apatowian comedies like “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up.” The key difference in Louiso’s film is that the character happens to be a woman. Screenwriter Sarah Koskoff has created a thoroughly engaging female character without compromising her less attractive qualities or her nagging arrested development. While HBO has taken long strides in the past year of endearing viewers to proudly unconventional females on “Enlightened,” “Veep,” and the brilliant Judd Apatow-produced “Girls,” women like Amy are still a rare breed on cinema screens. At a time when economic turmoil has caused many to feel stranded by their circumstances, it’s easy to imagine many moviegoers identifying with Amy even as they squirm in their seats. Her ex, David (Dan Futterman), treats her with such dismissiveness that her feelings of self-worth have sunk to an all-time low. She’s so defeated that the mere idea of dressing up feels like an alien concept. To prepare for her parents’ latest slew of sophisticated guests, Amy fixes herself up in front of her mirror and plasters a smile on her face while exclaiming that most popular of expletives (hint: it rhymes with “yuck”).
Christopher Abbott and Melanie Lynskey star in Todd Louiso’s Hello I Must Be Going.
Photo credit: Oscilloscope Laboratories