Goodbye to All That is about a nice guy who misses out on everything that’s funny, sexy, sweet, sad and exciting about life because he’s just not paying attention. Moviegoers could lose out on the same if they don’t seek out this new indie comedy.
The film, written and directed by Junebug screenwriter Angus MacLachlan, stars Paul Schneider as a clumsy but kind-hearted dad named Otto Wall, who is blindsided one day by wife Melanie Lynskey’s request for a divorce. As his life falls apart, he discovers he wasn’t making much use of it anyway and embarks on a romantic, awkward, and frequently absurd quest to figure out what really matters to him.
Goodbye to All That is in limited theatrical release now, and can also be found on iTunes and video-on-demand. Here’s why you should you make the effort…
1.) The Break-Up Scene
Just watch the clip above to see how MacLachland fuses heartbreak with intense awkwardness to make something brutally hilarious.
“It’s just the way life seems to me. Life seems horrible and funny and sad all at the same time, and the [stories] that I love the most have both,” MacLachlan says. “[The break-up scene] came from true, real life,” MacLachlan says. “One friend of mine literally got a phone call where his wife said, ‘Come to my therapist,’ and he said: ‘… Uh, you have a therapist?’”
That should have been a warning sign, but just like with Otto and his wife … it was already too late.
“He didn’t even know she was going to one and then the therapist said: ‘Your marriage is over.’ There were no ifs, ands, or buts — no talking about it.” MacLachlan said. “It’s horrifying and funny at the same time, and that’s what I was trying to put in the film. I’ve had people say a therapist would never do that, that it’s just unbelievable, but it actually did happen.”
2.) The Comeback
This is not a film about wallowing in misery. Otto gets kicked around a bit (or a lot), but Goodbye to All That is an upbeat coming-of-age tale about a guy who maybe should have grown up a while ago. Once Otto’s world disintegrates, he finds a lot of joy building the pieces back into something new.
“Eventually the story is really about how he has to pay attention to the most important female in his life, which is his 9-year-old daughter,” MacLachlan says. “In the course of the film, he’s not a bad father. He’s just unconscious of everything that is required of being a father for this child.”
Played by Audrey P. Scott, she’s not a kid who needs help — she’s the kid who saves her dad. “She is actually sort of the most feminist of all the characters because she states early on, and this comes from my own daughter, she’s not going to settle for being somebody that is rescued,” MacLachlan says. “She’s going to be the leader. ”
Apart from the father/daughter relationship, it’s also about love, romance, and …
3.)The Movie Is Sexy As Hell
When did movies become afraid of sex? Nudity, sexuality, and eroticism of all kinds has retreated from film (and found a welcome home, ironically, on cable television.) But Goodbye to All That tries not to be timid about that thing everybody thinks about all the time.
“I actually thought that it was a selling point to make the movie attractive. It’s got a lot of attractive people,” MacLachlan says. “We did have some distributors who turned it down because they thought it was too sexy. But it’s an aspect of our lives and this character’s life, being a 38-year-old suddenly-single man. It’s funny what’s accepted and what isn’t.”
He ran into a similar problem on his previous film. “I remember when Junebug came out, we had some conservative people say, ‘Why were there sex scenes in that?’” MacLachlan recalls. “I would say — ‘Everybody was married! That’s an aspect of life!”
4.) The Sex is FUN
After years in a stultifying marriage, Otto himself is surprised at how quickly things can escalate on a first date when an old girlfriend (Heather Graham), who has also gone through a recent divorce, casually takes him to bed. Unlike when they were kids, sex isn’t something dangerous, scary, or forbidden anymore. It’s awesome.
“It is a movie about adults. No one is being taken advantage of. All the women are acting out of their own volition,” says MacLachlan. We wanted it to be erotic, but not exploitative.”
He also wanted to make the sex romantic. “There’s a moment in every one of the encounters afterward where the woman and the man really look at each other, even if it’s just one second,” MacLachlan says. “Like, Heather Graham’s character says ‘Good morning, don’t get up out of bed, I have to go to work.’ There’s a moment right before that where they really lock eyes and kiss. It doesn’t mean they’re completely in love, but they have seen each other and all of the sexual encounters are healing in some way.”
5.) The Actresses
Otto may be the central character, but the rest of the movie is populated almost entirely by women:
• Lynskey as his unhappy wife, smothered by his obliviousness.
• Scott as his worried daughter, trying to help her dad find himself.
• Celia Weston as the therapist, shushing his reaction to the worst news of his life.
• Graham as that liberated ex-girlfriend, who shows him divorce isn’t the end of the world.
• Amy Sedaris as his grim boss, who says divorce IS the end of the world.
• Ashley Hinshaw as a 20-something who’s both a lot younger and a lot more advanced than Otto.
• Heather Lawless as another long-lost childhood sweetheart, who reunites to share a heartbreaking history.
“It’s really about Otto and all these women in his life,” MacLachlan says. “We had a terrific casting director Mark Bennett, who had also cast Junebug. He’s the one who brought Amy Adams to Phil Morrison, who directed it. I needed really terrific, strong actors to fill these roles,
Last but not least among the cast is True Blood‘s Anna Camp (pictured at the top of the story, with Schneider and Lynskey) as a tightly-wound, ultra-religious fling who cries out her own name during sex (“I’m … Debbie … SPANGLER!!”) then regrets everything the next day. That also came from real life.
“It was one of the stories that one of my friends told me,” MacLachlan says. “There’s a big theme in the film about wanting to be seen and be known. It’s something that Otto’s wife, Melanie’s character. says at the end that she wants to teach her daughter that a woman has the right to be known and to be loved, and she didn’t feel that she was in her marriage, that her husband was not paying attention to her.”
“All of the characters, because I think all human beings feel this way, they want to be seen,” MacLachlan adds. “And Debbie continually says, ‘I’m Debbie Spangler!‘ She yells it across a lake. She yells it during sex, it’s almost like she’s trying to find herself in some way.”