A Millennial suffers an early mid-life crisis in “I Used to Go Here,” a mildly insightful film from writer / director Kris Rey. Normally a movie like this would have a whiny, insufferable lead character, but the film’s overall relaxed, laid-back vibe is delightfully charming.
Thirtysomething writer Kate (Gillian Jacobs) has just published her first novel, which debuted to lackluster sales and poor reviews. Down in the dumps over a cancelled book tour and a recent breakup with her fiancée, she receives an invitation from her former professor (and old crush) David (Jemaine Clement) to speak at her alma mater. Kate decides to take the trip as a morale booster, hoping that returning to her old college as a published author might give her a little slice of happiness and sooth her deflated ego. She finds herself the big fish in a small pond while back on campus, succumbing to a serious case of regression by spending her time hanging out with the younger generation.
The story is basic and doesn’t earn any points for originality, but what it lacks in ingenuity it more than compensates with tons of charm. There’s an authenticity to Jacobs’ turn as Kate, and the character is wholly relatable because most adults have had the desire to go back to their glory days, briefly rewinding to their carefree college years. Growing up isn’t always fun, and the story is appealing because Kate is able to back up to a safe place where it’s easy (and encouraged) to try new things — not like in the “real world.” Jacobs may not be a strong leading lady, but she’s perfectly cast here and carries the film with a casual confidence. The same can be said for the majority of the supporting actors, too.
The film will resonate with people at a crossroads, especially those who are questioning their life path and career choices. It’s human nature to daydream about what would happen if you were able to reset your life, and how different things would be if you were able to re-do all of those pesky little stumbling blocks along the way. The film captures that feeling of failure that some may get when hit with the realization that you didn’t quite live up to expectations, with the worst critic always being yourself.