Goodbye to All That: A dip in the dating pool

For his feature directorial debut Goodbye to All That, Winston-Salem’s own Angus MacLachlan has fashioned a likable, loose comedy of neuroses populated by credible characters and executed in unforced, quietly observant fashion.

UNCSA graduate Paul Schneider enjoys a well-deserved lead turn as Otto Wall, a good-natured everyman blindsided by the announcement that his wife Annie (Melanie Lynskey) wants a divorce. Immediately. No questions asked. No chance for reconciliation. Over and out.

A bewildered Otto plunges back into the dating world with a delectable selection of beauties (Heather Graham, Ashley Hinshaw and scene-stealer Anna Camp), only to become even more bewildered as a result, but it’s not until he reconnects with old summer-camp friend Lara (Heather Lawless) that he finds what might conceivably be Miss Right. Then again, she may not, but Otto nevertheless gains a newer, brighter perspective on life and love as a result of his newfound freedom.

MacLachlan, who wrote and executiveproduced as well as directed, has coaxed appealing performances from his cast, which also includes young Audrey P. Scott as Otto and Annie’s bright but insecure daughter, Amy Sedaris (all-too-briefly seen as Otto’s boss), and Celia Weston (like MacLachlan and Schneider an alumnus of UNCSA) as Annie’s therapist, the sort of smug, self-assured “professional” who seems to delight in splitting up marriages. What’s more, she gets paid doing it.

As the film was entirely shot in Winston- Salem, a number of familiar area talents (Jeffrey Dean Foster, Beth Bostic, Mabel Robinson) make appearances, and local audiences will enjoy spotting local landmarks throughout. The cheerful cinematography by Corey Walter (his feature debut) is also a plus, as is the selection of classical compositions on the soundtrack.

Goodbye to All That takes the requisite elements of high-concept romantic comedy and adds extra texture to breathe some fresh life into a well-worn genre. It’s a film with personality. !

(For an exclusive interview with executive producer/writer/director Angus MacLachlan, turn to Page 33)

Goodbye to All That opens Friday at A/ perture Cinema, Winston-Salem.

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