In Goodbye to All That, a new movie from the writer of Junebug, Otto can pretty much pin-point the moment he realized his marriage was over. It was probably right around the time he and his wife went to see their marriage counselor, who proceeded to inform him, “Your marriage is over.” It’s not a moment a person — or viewers — would forget quickly.
“A lot of the film was inspired by incidents that have happened to very close friends of mine,” says Junebug scribe and first-time director Angus MacLachlan. “I think anybody who’s married has fear that sometimes they’re not keeping their eye on the ball until something out of the blue comes up.”
Paul Schneider (All the Real Girls) plays Otto, a somewhat oblivious graphic designer who finds himself back in the dating pool after his wife (Melanie Lynskey) stuns him with her intention to leave him. But technology presents a bevy of new romantic opportunities — and pitfalls. Otto discovers Facebook and OkCupid and has a series of online-instigated encounters with old girlfriends (Heather Graham), savvy online daters (Ashley Hinshaw), and surprising suburbanites (Anna Camp).
“Otto ends up meeting these people in a way that seems much easier to him than it had been when he was younger,” says Schneider. “But I think he comes to understand that these technological advances are not shortcuts towards a traditional relationship, like a new backdoor into a land that he was familiar with. It is in fact a door to a land that he is completely unfamiliar with.”
MacLachlan resists direct comparisons to director Phil Morrison’s Junebug, which was also set in North Carolina, the home state of both MacLachlan and Schneider. That film was more about the inter-dynamics of a family, whereas Goodbye is really about a man learning to deal with the women in his life. The director concedes that this film, which will premiere April 17 at the Tribeca Film Festival, is perhaps a tad lighter than Junebug, but with laughs that are never at the expense of the characters.
Schneider though MacLachlan was a special director, especially since he’s found that not all directors have his ability to connect with actors. “When you’re me and you’re desperately trying not to look like a refrigerator next to Heather Graham, I need help,” he says. “I don’t need expertise. I need someone who is not afraid to sit down with two actors for a sex scene and speak explicitly and directly to them about what he wants — and not be afraid of it and hide behind a monitor and expect two human beings to try and read that person’s very embarrassed mind.”
Modern online love and sex scenes with metaphorical kitchen appliances will have to wait. Below, watch the painful moment when Otto realizes his marriage is kaput.