|I Used to Go Here is a funny and clever addition to the not-quite-a-mid-life-crisis, not-quite-a-quarter-life crisis genre. Kate (Gillian Jacobs) is in her mid-30s and the film quickly establishes that things are not going as well for her as she would like. She just got her first novel published – yay! But sales are poor, her book tour is cancelled, and there’s a man she once lived with who is not returning her calls.||2020 |
Directed by: Kris Rey
Screenplay by: Kris Rey
Starring: Gillian Jacobs, Josh Wiggins,
Jermaine Clement and Hannah Marks
When a former professor, David (Jermaine Clement), calls and asks if she wants to do a reading of her book at her alma mater, she jumps at the chance. Hey, it’s a one-stop book tour! There’s a lot to love about this film, including: Gillian Jacobs’ performance, the subtle hints at things that have happened/will happen, and the fact that this is set at a real (almost real) university (Illinois University, just imagine the word “Southern” in front) and actually filmed in that university’s town (Carbondale, Illinois).
Kate is staying at a bed and breakfast near campus, a student-populated area, and as it happens to be, right across the street from the house she lived in. This is a fantastic setting. It really reminded me of my old stomping grounds even though I’ve never been to Illinois. It’s also the perfect location for our protagonist, a currently-unhappy barely-successful mid-30s Kate, to revisit her life when she was last fully contented with her life.
Kate had named her residence “writers’ retreat” because her roommates and her were all creative writing majors. She wanders into the house, now with four college-aged guys, who also happen to be creative writing majors because that name had stuck with the house over the years. Kate is smart enough to know there is nothing for her in that house now, but the boys are all cool and sweet and really look up to her (she’s a published author!).
This is a fast-moving film with excellent characters. The main plot involves professor David’s current protégé (April, played by Hannah Marks), the boys’ acceptance of Kate in their house and their lives, and Hugo (Josh Wiggins) who is really taken by Kate and at the same time suspects his girlfriend, April, of cheating on him. Kate knows who with, and we strongly suspect as to how Kate knows.
Wiggins is really starting to come into his own after his fantastic turn in Giant Little Ones, and this is the “where is my life going?” performance that we all know Gillian Jacobs has in her. She made so many questionably bad decisions in this film and yet I was with her every step of the way. In the smaller moments, I Used to Go Here is remarkably relatable, and in the bigger moments it’s funny and entertaining.