I Used to Go Here is a really funny yet modest take on “faking it ’til you make it”, as well as the internal wrestle between resisting and settling for feigned fulfilment.
Filmmaker Kris Rey (Unexpected) centres her story on Kate (Gillian Jacobs), a first-time novelist who is putting on a brave face after the cancellation of her book tour. When she’s asked by a past professor, David (Jemaine Clement), to perform a reading of her published work at her former college, with reserved excitement, she accepts. But once she cozies into her quaint bed and breakfast (located across the street from her old house) and arrives on campus, she starts to romanticize her suppressed nostalgia; sometimes even living out parties and familiar escapades from her school life.
I Used to Go Here is a good example of a fairly consistent production. The jokes land, the emotions are genuine, and the performances are spot-on. Though the film starts to play a different tune with its tone when the humour involves more oddball hijinks. For instance, an extended sequence involving Kate and some new friends sneaking into a teacher’s house to catch him fooling around with a student is amusing, but doesn’t match the previous modesty that the movie was grooving with. Instead, it plays as a deleted scene from 2018’s madcap Life of the Party (which, coincidentally, also co-starred Jacobs).
But I am particularly proud of Gillian Jacobs’ work in I Used to Go Here. She made a name for herself playing around with similar material in TV’s cult hit Community, but she headlines this movie with a fresh take on being a fish-out-of-water-on-campus. Similar admiration is dished out to Clement as well, who chooses to flesh out his role – relating it to his former student’s hidden resentment – instead of simply indulging in the professor’s quirkiness.
The cast, however, has been blessed with a well realized script written by Kris Rey. Rey does a terrific job setting up situations that challenge weakened confidence, allowing her convincing characters to swallow their pride until they convey their contempt for their dismissive behaviour. These personal moments help push the movie from being a typical campus comedy into being an important piece about self-reflection.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie