Sometimes a story untold can be better than the one a screenwriter gives you.
Finding a good movie in 2020, is like finding an antique in a storage locker. You have to go through a lot of garbage in order to find something of any value.
However, films such as Kris Rey’s I Used To Go Here are a unique find because the story being shown is often better than the story being told.
On its face value, I Used to Go Here portrays a story that attempts to find a common ground of relatability with its audiences and in many ways, it achieves this. Actress Gillian Jacobs, who made her name playing Britta in NBC hit comedy“Community” plays a woman named Kate.
Kate is a novelist who has worked much of her life to reach the point of selling her very first book. The problem is the book isn’t selling and because of that, her publisher’s book tour has been canceled.
Now in her mid-30s, Kate has plateaued with no career inspirations, an ex-fiance that wants nothing to do with her, and a group of friends who have had better success moving into adulthood than she has. Kate returns to her former college to speak about her story and the nostalgia trip reminds her of a better point in her life, giving her a much-needed jolt to save her failing career.
To your average moviegoer, I Used To Go Here is mundane storytelling at its best. However, the story being told is not the story of Kate, it is the story of those who identify with her.
Kate is the avatar of those who grew up in the world of liberal arts colleges. The premise of the film hinges on the idea that you as the viewer see yourself in the main character. Because of that, the film isn’t a study of a character but of its audience. So Kate becomes the endgame (and for others, the warning sign) of what happens to thirty-something females with friends who run the gamut of nostalgia, low self-esteem, and white rabbit perceived career success that is common with college students.
Kate lacks any true motivation outside of her own success which magnifies her failures as a writer. As a protagonist, she is not engaging as a character. In the film, she fails to impress anyone with her story or even provide valuable advice in her field.
In an unintentional moment of charity, the film attempts to criticize Kate’s work as a writer however, those criticisms can be shared with the film itself.
“Amateurish effort, saccharine emotions, pretentious prose, aimless, and just plain boring”
Whether intentional or unintentional, I Used To Go Here is life imitating art in real time. Despite being a comedy, laughs are few and far between for those uninterested in the “so-awkward” brand of comedy. Despite being a drama, there isn’t much of a story to attach your emotions to.
If you find solace with a young millennial woman who put her entire adult life into her failed career, this is your bread and butter.