(hoopla/HBO MAX/VOD) I love films about fuckups, folks who are old enough to be aware that they’re stumbling through life but simply haven’t honed the skills to steady their adult steps, and I USED TO GO HERE is certainly about a fuckup about to fall flat on her face. It’s the tale of Kate (Gillian Jacobs), a 30-something Chicago-based writer whose fiancé has broken up with her because of how he’s portrayed in her first novel and, complicating matters, her first novel lands with a thud, her promotional tour canceled.
Written and directed by Kris Rey, who has spent quite a bit of time in Illinois — delightfully obvious from the opening which showcases a corner of Chicago’s Lincoln Square as opposed to shots of The Loop — keeps the film breezier than most probably would. The script is peppered with deflecting quips that keep the emotional hits her character takes at bay as she tries bolster her self-confidence while navigating her old campus fifteen years after the fact. While it could get away with it, the film rarely leans on many of the traditional tropes you’d expect from a ‘revisiting my old stomping grounds!’ work.
That said, the film succeeds because of Jacobs, who has been perfectly playing fuckups for years (best exemplified by her run as Britta on COMMUNITY https://uproxx.com/viral/britta-brittad-it-community/ ). She’s always been fantastic at turning in clueless performances but, with I USED TO GO HERE, she turns up the self-awareness a bit without making it too winking or hammy. Consequently, her journey is a winsome and entertaining one.