I Used to Go Here

Review by Rich Cline | 4/5

I Used to Go Here
dir-scr Kris Rey
prd Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, Becky Cloviter
with Gillian Jacobs, Jemaine Clement, Josh Wiggins, Hannah Marks, Forrest Goodluck, Jorma Taccone, Zoe Chao, Kate Micucci, Brandon Daley, Khloe Janel, Rammel Chan, Cindy Gold
release US 7.Aug.20,
UK 14.Sep.20
20/US 1h28

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wiggins, jacobs, janel and goodluck
Sharp and funny, this comedy is grounded in feelings that are sometimes painfully easy to identify with. Writer-director Kris Rey is playfully exploring that nagging feeling that we're not as grown up as we think we should be, and maybe that's not a bad thing. It's a gently paced film that never pushes either the themes or the comedy too far, knowingly exploring some very pointed truths with an open hand.
Annoyed that her publisher won't promote her new novel, Kate (Jacobs) is further frustrated that her best pal Laura (Chao) is pregnant, just as Kate has broken off her engagement. Then Kate's dishy former professor David (Clement) invites her to speak at her alma mater across the state. Revisiting old haunts, she awkwardly reconnects with a friend (Taccone) and is invited to party with some college boys (Wiggins and Goodluck). Unexpectedly, she gets along much better with these kids who are 15 years younger than she is. Which makes her worry that she's stuck.
Returning to her university town raises mixed emotions for Kate, who pines for a life that's simpler and more hopeful than it is now. Even though she's a published novelist, she doesn't feel any more grown-up than the current students. She's even treated like a disobedient child by the woman (Gold) who runs her B&B, which only makes her misbehave more. But Kate's also beginning to see how she has compromised on the promise of her youth, letting the demands of the publishing industry corrupt her true voice.

Jacobs has a hapless likeability as this young woman who feels like her life simply won't move forward. Nothing seems to go the way it should for her, and Jacobs finds strong emotions as Kate begins to be honest with herself. Her chemistry with the surrounding characters is fascinating, simply because it ripples in so many suggested directions, from her flirtation with Clement's now-married teacher to a quiet understanding that grows between her and Wiggins' also attached Hugo.

The film bristles with ideas that dig into the themes from inventive angles, all underpinned by snappy wit. So even if a few of the plot points feel contrived or silly, there's always a lot more going on in the subtext, adding a depth of feeling that pulls us in. Rey keeps the tone light, so even when much more serious things swell up, the film remains amusing and realistic, finding pungent ideas within what feels like a breezy story.

cert 15 themes, language 6.Aug.20

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© 2020 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall