We Go Way Back
Director: Lynn Shelton
Writer: Lynn Shelton
Cast: Maggie Brown, Amber Hubert, Lynn Shelton, Robert Hamilton Wright, Aaron Blakely, Alycia Delmore, Matthew M. Bianchi, Basil Harris
Seen on: 10.4.2021
Kate (Amber Hubert) is an actress, hoping to finally get her break, but so far mostly just running errands for her theater. On her 23rd birthday, she opens a letter that she wrote to herself when she was 13 (Maggie Brown). The hopeful words of the letter stand in stark contrast to the feeling of being stuck that Kate has at the moment. Even when the theater director (Robert Hamilton Wright) finally offers Kate a leading role, it doesn’t feel quite as satisfying as Kate had hoped. And so her 13-year-old self keeps haunting her.
We Go Way Back is a captivating mix of sad and funny that gives us a thoughtful portrayal of an unhappy young woman without descending completely into doom and gloom. I really enjoyed it.
On the face of it, We Go Way Back is really depressing. Kate really can’t say no to anything – be it the director’s idea that she should speak Hedda Gabler’s lines in the original Norwegian, or the many guys who want to fuck her. It doesn’t really matter what she wants, neither to her nor to the men who keep pushing her boundaries (one has to wonder how long Kate has been used so callously, and how that probably contributed to where she is now). Arguably, Kate doesn’t even know what she wants, not anymore.
It’s a rather bleak set-up, but Shelton suffuses it with a fine sense of humor. The director’s increasingly erratic work on the play. Kate’s Norwegian lessons. Her reaction when she suddenly finds herself facing her 13-year-old self. Hubert plays Kate with a little ironic twist to her self-exasperation that acknowleges Kate’s pain at the rut she finds herself in, but doesn’t take it completely seriously and also tries to shake herself out of it.
There is a sense of healing to Kate when she realizes that Pete (Basil Harris) literally sees her younger self, and doesn’t just see the pretty (read: fuckable) woman she’s become. This creates a space for Kate to accept her own past hopes, dreams and ambitions, and to move forward again.
It’s a touching film that left me smiling, despite everything. It may not be a cinematic revelation, but it’s a small and very fine film that is definitely worth seeing.