JDIFF Review – Goodbye to All That

After a foolish accident in which he damages his foot, Otto (Paul Scheider) is stunned when his wife Annie (Melanie Lynskey) surprises him with divorce papers. Determined to get back on the proverbial horse, Otto immediately begins dating again, but soon finds that juggling an ex-wife, a 10-year-old daughter and some unpredictable dates.

Goodbye to All That is a sweet enough little film about a man dealing with the end of a relationship in what seems to be atypical manner; by ignoring it. He is helped, it seems, by surrounding himself with unpredictable, overly dramatic and highly strung women.

Paul Schneider does well in the leading role as Otto; audience sympathy is definitely with him as he tries to understand this new world as a single man. Melanie Lynskey plays the first of the highly strung women; Otto’s soon to be ex-wife. Lynskey plays Annie as self-involved, and the type of person who spews catchphrases, rather than speaking for herself. The notion that Annie had her therapist tell Otto she wanted a divorce speaks volumes for the character. Heather Graham turns up as the work obsessed but likeable Stephanie, Anna Camp creates Debbie as an over the top and ridiculous woman and Ashley Hinshaw turns up as the sexually intense Mildred.

The story, written by Angus MacLachlan, is definitely one that is created for laughs, and there are plenty to be had here. Otto bumbles from one situation to the next, perhaps being led by his penis, rather than his head. That said, Otto is a rather likeable character, and the audience can certainly relate to the feeling of having the rug pulled out from under them. The trouble arises when McLachlan tries to create adult female characters; they are either needy, sex crazed or just simply crazed, with the only female coming out of this mess seeming sane is Otto’s daughter Edie. This does not feel as though it is done maliciously, but when Otto stumbles from one erratic woman to the next, the pattern becomes noticeable. As well as this, there is a feeling of familiarity and predictability throughout the film, although the journey of the story is almost always a fun one to go on.

As director, Angus Lachman does his job ably. The film feels smooth and carefully constructed, and there is a definite feel that these characters are growing and changing before our eyes. There are times when events happen either too quickly or too slowly, but for the most part, the film is well paced and warm.

In all, Goodbye to All That is a sweet and funny look at what happens to a man after his life falls apart. Women don’t come out of this film too well, but this feels like it is done for laughs, and to poke fun at the weirdness of the dating world, so this is forgivable. Schneider, Graham and Camp shine through in this film about rising to the occasion when change is thrust upon us.

Rating: 3/5

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