James Cole Clay has been working as a film critic for the better part of a decade covering new releases, blu ray reviews and the occasional drive-in cult classic. His writing is dedicated to discovering social politics through diverse voices, primarily focusing on Women In Film and LGBTQ cinema.
James Clay// Film Critic
I USED TO GO HERE
As effervescent as indie comedies come, Kris Rey’s highly enjoyable, yet seemingly slight, coming-of-age story, I USED TO GO HERE, captures the post-grad millennial angst that many internet aged professionals have trouble conquering.
Anchored with another thoughtful performance from Gillian Jacobs (Netflix’s LOVE) and wallpapered with a list of fresh-and-familiar faces – including Josh Wiggins (GIANT LITTLE ONES) and Jemaine Clement (of FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS fame), who populate the world of this academia centric comedy. Armed with Rey’s poignant direction and a familiar framework, I USED TO GO HERE taps into career anxieties of the past, present, and future, while still sparing some time to hang out with its highly likable cast of characters. (Oh, and it’s produced by Lonely Island Classics, headed by Andy Samberg and Jorma Taccone – who has a strange cameo in the film.)
Kate Conklin (Jacobs) is a 35-year-old novelist who just completed her first published work and is returning to her undergraduate creative writing program after her former professor/crush David (Clement) extended her an invitation to give a reading and workshop with a crop of current students. Rey’s previous feature UNEXPECTED delicately handled the relationship of two young women at two very different stages in their lives managing unplanned pregnancies. That film, not unlike I USED TO GO HERE, addresses the authentic feeling of uncertainty of everyday life, and that’s the beauty of a filmmaker who is void of pretension. Rey’s filmmaking brand reaches for reliability while staying so insanely true to making a film that sharply addresses how to cope with self-doubt.
Despite Kate’s successes to grow, we must leave the past behind, and as she traipses through a world that’s familiar, yet changes, she realizes that things are the way they used to be. Jacobs and Clement are by far the largest stars in the cast. They confidently move through their relational dynamic that skirts on flirtation and given their past raises so many troubling connotations. While Rey’s story leans more towards a predictable outcome as a writer, there are many subversions thematically.
While this is more or less a hangout film capturing a specific flashpoint in a young creative’s life, what Rey can weave in as Kate goes back to her old classrooms, party spots, and even her college crash pad she’s able to confront the person she thought she was and reckon with who is wants to be going forward. It’s a stroke of brilliance and originality for Rey, yet another grounded role for Jacobs, known for brash comedic turns the past ten years.
There are peripheral characters to note. Hugo (Wiggins), a young charmer who acts as a (somewhat) romantic interest for Kate, shows the love she wanted at a young age. April (Hannah Marks) causes Kate to look inward and see herself in a different light.
This unabashedly fun film asks its audience to look back into their past without being heavy-handed or judgmental.
I USED TO GO HERE is available on all VOD platforms on August 7th.