Gillian Jacobs goes back to school in indie comedy I Used to Go Here, written and directed by indie filmmaker Kris Rey. The story centres around Chicago-based author Kate Conklin (Jacobs) who, having just had her debut novel published, is asked to give a guest lecture at the college she had graduated from years earlier. This invite takes her back to the street she once lived on, reconnects her with former professor David (Jemaine Clement), and presents a unique opportunity to relive her youth.
Tapping into the mid-thirties lull that some experience when their peers begin to start families, the narrative cleverly plays as a coming-of-age story in reverse. Kate’s book isn’t doing very well, and she is newly single whilst all her friends are pregnant. Feeling out-of-the-loop and lacking in focus, she goes backwards in an attempt to move forward as a person, and Rey’s script incorporates the storyline tropes you’d expect from a frat-house flick. This sets up awkward scenarios and provides moments of great humour as Kate finds herself immersed back into student life.
In the leading role, seasoned comedy actress Gillian Jacobs is a perfect fit for the film’s mumblecore movement style. With lesser talent at the core, the material might have fallen flat, but she has an edge and a laidback energy that lends itself well to the tangled character and makes us root for her even when she makes questionable choices. Sadly, the youngsters she meets throughout are less interesting and completely forgettable, so even with a nifty running time of just 86 minutes, there’s some time wasted on their clichéd subplots.
I Used to Go Here is a lightweight but enjoyable watch that poses a smart social commentary on not settling down in your thirties. Kris Rey’s writing is smart and incisive and is enhanced by Gillian Jacob’s engaging central performance.