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VOD Review: I Used to Go Here

August 7, 2020

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Kate Conklin (Gillian Jacobs), the main character in the new indie dramedy I Used to Go Here, is a writer in her mid-thirties who has just published her first novel, only to have her book tour cancelled by the publisher due to poor sales.

With the man she was engaged to marry no longer answering her calls, and her book performing badly, Kate is at a crossroads in her life. In light of this, she gets a phone call from her former college professor David Kirkpatrick (Jemaine Clement), whom she was crushing on as a student, who invites her back to her alma mater in Carbondale, Illinois for a book reading.

This return trip to her old stomping grounds allows Kate to reflect on her life so far, while also revisiting her university days. Kate is staying at a bed and breakfast that is across the street from her old residence, and starts hanging out with the college students who live there now. This includes a trio of young guys, Hugo (Josh Wiggins), Animal (Forrest Goodluck) and Tall Brandon (Brandon Daley, stealing every scene that he’s in), who invite her into their friend group.

Written and directed by Kris Rey, (who was formerly married to Joe Swanberg), I Used to Go Here is a very appealing film. There are a lot of nice little character moments observed by Rey, with the humour mostly arising naturally out of the awkward situations that Kate finds herself in. Rey’s screenplay is also really smart in the way that it explores how we take more chances when we are young, and how the fear of failure causes us to take less risks as we get older.

Kate knows that her book is mediocre, (a running gag has her constantly bringing up how she dislikes the crappy cover art), and that she used to be a better and more challenging writer in college. Jacobs, who is perhaps best known from her role on Community, is the key to why I Used to Go Here works so well, and it’s her performance that grounds the film. Like the movie around her, Jacobs delivers an authentic performance that is both low-key funny and also sort of sad, and her character is one that is easy for the audience to relate to.

Wiggins, a young Canadian actor who also really impressed me in the film Giant Little Ones, is a standout of the supporting cast, with a charming, laid-back screen presence that is reminiscent of a young Leonardo DiCaprio. All in all, I Used to Go Here is an enjoyable, slightly reflective mix of quiet comedy and light drama that, at only 87 minutes long, goes down quite smooth. I liked it.

I Used to Go Here is being released today on a variety of digital and VOD platforms. It’s being distributed in Canada by Pacific Northwest Pictures.

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