I Used to Go Here: Searching For Adulthood
It’s really interesting as I get older, more and more movies and even books become more and more relatable. I Used to Go Here, from writer-director Kris Rey was originally slated to premiere at South by Southwest and fortunately still managed to get a digital release this weekend. After her 2015 Sundance entry Unexpected starring Cobie Smulders, Rey is back with her best film yet, starring another underrated actress: Gillian Jacobs. Jacobs, known for her role in the beloved underrated sitcom Community (also see her in the Netflix original Love), is by far the best thing about this little indie gem.
Jacobs is Kate Conklin, a young and newly-published author living in Chicago and trying to get over a breakup with her fiance. Due to lack of sales, her book tour is canceled and in one of the funniest shots of the show, she poses for a picture at a baby shower with three other pregnant friends but holds her book in the place of a pregnant stomach. It’s millennial impotence at its finest. The decline from feeling left behind. When a call from an old professor and friend brings her back to her alma mater to do a reading from her novel, the glorious past is wafted right back into her nostrils. She stays at an old bed and breakfast that still smells like weed however many years later and her old college house still stands just across the street. Soon she becomes hilariously involved with the new college inhabitants of the house while she relishes their praise for her even though her book is failing. “You wrote a book, that’s so cool,” and “She’s like a super successful author.” One character named Tall Brandon sticks out, literally physically but also in one very funny scene involving his roommate/friend’s mom. There’s also Elliot, Kate’s assistant for the trip, a lovable and bubbly personality that you can’t help but be amused by.
This is one of those movies that is mostly (clever editing) carried by the performers, especially Jacobs. Kate is good-hearted but heartbroken and unsure even after all these years out of college. While the movie doesn’t necessarily stick the landing in what it’s trying to say (Success is relative? Writing is hard? The benefits of college community? When you think you know a good man but he actually probably sucks too? You should sleep with college kids?), Kate’s arc works. From disconnect and anxiety to acceptance and hope. Besides that, it’s a sweet little film that many will probably write-off as generic, cliche indie fare. However, I believe it’s worth the watch due to Rey’s ability to spray some Windex on the dirty window that is the character-revisits-their-past trope. There’s still some dirty spots, but it’s clean and fresh enough to see through it for the fun and enjoyment.
I’m all for emotionally authentic stories about the anxiety, confusion, and discontent of the millennial generation. Especially one that, while not relying on it too much, imbues the nostalgia of reflecting on your college days. Those days where you think you’re an adult but you are actually so far away from the life that would be considered adulthood. These days, it’s not so clearly defined and why should it be? We all have our own distinct ways of growing up. Uncertainty is a part of life and I think, especially in 2020, we’re discovering that looking back is a good way to not only learn, but to find some certainty.