It’s been something of a surprise to me that readers of this blog are not fond of the comedy genre. It’s true that there are fewer comedies made now than at any point in film history, we seem to prefer our laughs on twitter or three-minute viral videos. And yet there is still art in creating a story that makes us laugh, and so I Used To Go Here arrives bang on time to lighten up the darkening days.
Going back to your roots is a key theme in indie cinema, from Beautiful Girls to Garden State, and Kris Rey, directing from her own screenplay, manages to bring something new to the party here. Of course, there’s some big draws to help connect to an audience; Gillian Jacobs is probably best known as anarchist cat-lover Britta from the long-running comedy show Community, but she’s overdue a chance to spread her wings dramatically, and takes the opportunity here with a fine, nuanced performance that quickly erases her sitcom familiarity. And of course, Jermaine Clement’s role in Flight of the Conchords will help to flag up that this is an off-beat comedy that delivers both laughs and pathos.
Failure is a factor in everyday life, and newly published author Kate Conklin (Jacobs) knows it more than most; her wedding has been cancelled, even as the ink on the freshly printed invitations dries. Her friends seem to be getting pregnant faster than she can recover from a bad relationship, and so when her book tour is cancelled due to poor sales, she takes a chance on an invitation to visit her alma mater. Her former professor, David Kilpatrick (Clement) is keen for her to inculcate his students with her experiences, and Kate has a secret crush on him. But when the lecture is over, reality catches up fast; her landlady is aggressive, her digs are unwelcoming, and the only source of social contact is the band of students living in what used to be her house.
Denied a platform by the Covid decimation of South by Southwest, I Used To Go Here is a charming and assuredly lightweight film; there’s no great dramatic twist other that Kilpatrick is something of a ladies man with the students, and Kate’s hopes for re-kindling her relationship and her career flounder. So instead, we have a charming hang-out movie, as Kate is humbled to discover that she has more to learn from the students than they do from her. Andy Samberg is amongst the producers, and fans of the Lonely Island imprint will get their fill of tragi-comic adventures as Kate organises her gang to uncover the truth about their tutor.
This is a welcome, warm and fuzzy film that offers a 86 minute hug for anyone who knows how public life can leave you exposed. A skilfully developed running joke sees Kate confronted by the fact that no-one has actually cracked the spine on her book; the world is too busy for her pretentions. A strong example of a female-driven film that’s accessible to all, the bitter-sweet I Used To Go Here should be savoured as a tonic in today’s super-serious times.
In the UK, Signature Entertainment presents I Used To Go Here on Digital HD 14th September