There’s a moment in the charming new indie Hello I Must Be Going when our heroine, Amy (Melanie Lynskey), is — to understate — down on her luck. She’s recovering from a brutal divorce and has moved back in with her parents, where she skulks about their suburban house in the same schlubby t-shirt and cut-off shorts. Her mother (Blythe Danner) tends to say helpful things like, “Getting fat isn’t going to help anything,” and she’s become tangled up in an affair with a 19-year-old (Girls’ Christopher Abbott). Due to one night’s extra-unfortunate events, Amy ends up on a picturesque beach…only to trip and fall on her face. “Where. Is. Bottom?,” she wonders. It’s everything Melanie Lynskey does right — a moment that’s funny and true and soul-crushing all at once.
The New Zealand-born Lynskey first came on the scene in 1994 in Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures alongside Kate Winslet. Since then she’s been one of those oh-yeah-it’s-her character actresses in films such as Up in the Air, Win Win, andThe Informant!, and in TV show Two and a Half Men. But it’s here in Hello I Must Be Going (which debuted at Sundance and is currently in select theaters) that she finally gets to be a leading lady. And thank goodness for that. In her review of the film, EW’s Lisa Schwarzbaum says, “I readily proclaim myself among the ranks of Lynskey lovers, but even the uninitiated will be impressed by how, despite being costumed in clichés of despair (and sexy-dress clichés of blooming womanhood, too), she makes Amy a vibrant and specific human being. What’s equally impressive, though, is the effect the star’s gentle charisma has on the whole production: Working from a script by his wife, Sarah Koskoff, High Fidelity actor-turned-director Todd Louiso shapes the movie to Lynskey’s rhythms.”
In this week’s Entertainment Weekly (on stands now), Anthony Breznican sat down with Lynskey to discuss her career’s new beginnings 18 years after she started working. “My first-ever meeting with a casting director was like, ‘I don’t know why you’re here. You’re not going to work in America. You don’t have the right look. You’re not pretty enough…’,” she told him about coming to Hollywood at the age of 18. As disheartening as this story is (and it really is), the more positive side is that now, after films like Hello I Must Be Going, we get to finally see Lynskey at age 35 come into her rightful place as a quite beautiful and relatable star.