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Review: I Used to Go Here

In this likable little indie comedy, thirty-something Kate (Gillian Jacobs from TV’s Community) has just published her debut novel and is excitedly planning for her first book tour. Then her agent calls to tell her that sales are slow and it’s been canceled. On top of it her recently ex-fiancé isn’t returning her calls. And all her friends are having babies. And life sucks. So what’s a girl to do? Accept an invitation from her favorite professor and mentor to return to her alma mater in Carbondale, Illinois for a reading to his latest writing class. What follows is a light and somewhat familiar story, elevated by a well-chosen cast and solid direction by Kris Rey (Unexpected).

When she arrives, her B&B just happens to be across the street from the house she lived in in college. And since Kate came to town entirely unmoored, it’s easy for her to slip back into safe college mode when she goes for a look at her old home and is immediately welcomed with open arms by the young writers currently living there. There’s one particular student Hugo (Josh Wiggins) who she clicks with immediately, and soon she’s hanging with the kids, partying, going on swimming outings, and becoming one of the gang. And it’s a welcome escape from her life. That walk down memory lane with the students triggers her to regress, and through the experience she’s able to see herself and her work in a whole new light.

Professor David (Jermaine Clement from TV’s Flight of the Conchords) who she had a crush on back in the day is still the flirtatious horndog he was before, and still looking to “mentor” that one special young writer. So when it looks like his latest target is Hugo’s girlfriend, the gang stages a midnight recon mission to find out if the Professor is sleeping with her. It’s a somewhat ridiculous detour in the story, which at its heart is about Kate figuring out who she is and how she wrote such a bad book when she had so much promise back when she “used to go here.”

I haven’t watched Community, so Gillian Jacobs is an unknown quantity to me, but based on this role, I’d like to see more of her. Her character feels somewhat like a Greta Gerwig, though without the kookie factor. And you can totally see her evolution from powerless pleaser to woman in charge of her life. I Used to Go Here is a slight film, but worth watching.