Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Movie with Abe: I Used to Go Here

I Used to Go Here
Directed by Kris Rey
Released August 7, 2020

People’s lives don’t always pan out the way they expect. The prediction that those growing up now will have multiple careers in fields that don’t even exist yet only further reduces the likelihood that knowing what you want to do when you grow up means that’s what you’ll end up doing. Having a passion, however, can be enduring, and those who have a firm sense of what they’re best at may indeed persevere and pursue their dreams. What success looks like isn’t set, and achieving what you set out to do may not be as emotionally fulfilling or financially productive as it always seemed like it would.

Kate (Gillian Jacobs) is thirty-five years old and has just published a novel. A cover she doesn’t love seems like a negligible bump, but a cancellation of the book tour that was supposed to help create the sales her publisher tells her aren’t materializing makes her feel like a failure. An unexpected invitation from her college professor David (Jemaine Clement) to do a reading at her alma mater provides her with a chance to feel relevant and accomplished. The return to a part of her past brings with it a longing for simpler times and a gradual recognition that what she always wanted may not actually bring her the happiness she so desires.

Kate is a relatively solitary character, one who attends the baby shower of her friend Laura (Zoe Chao) and is told to pose with her book in front of her belly alongside three pregnant women in a photo. She calls Laura in a moment of boredom but otherwise expresses no connection to friends or family, and as a result latches on to the current residents of her old home, who all happen to be aspiring writers. She encounters old classmates whose lives are very different now, and revisits elements of her college experience that seem potentially irresponsible but likely inconsequential. It’s a way to get to know her without really understanding who she is first, since even she doesn’t appear to truly know.

This film was originally slated to have its world premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival this past March. It is a recognizably independent venture, one that values spotlighted performer turns over cinematic style, finding poignancy in simple conversations and uncomplicated storylines. Jacobs is a decent fit for the lead role, imbuing Kate with minimal energy and an uncensored personality. Clement plays what may well be the most normative role of his career, and Josh Wiggins, who made his debut in “Hellion” and returned to Sundance with “Walking Out” several years ago, is a standout from the supporting cast as a student who befriends Kate. This film is reminiscent of “The Lifeguard,” another portrait of an unmotivated young woman who seeks solace in what she might consider the best years of her lives. It’s entertaining and likeable enough, and, like its protagonist, not entirely fascinating or memorable.


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