THE STORY - A decade after abruptly breaking up with Naomi, Kris invites her to dinner to catch-up on their complicated lives, relationships, and Kris' transition.
THE CAST - Pooya Mohseni, Lynn Chen, Nican Robinson, Danny Jacobs & Nikohl Boosheri
THE TEAM - Mari Walker (Director/Writer) & Kristen Uno (Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME - 74 Minutes
THE GOOD - Fantastic performances and some of the year's best dialogue
THE BAD - The constant conversation may be boring for some
THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - None
THE FINAL SCORE - 7/10
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By Sara Clements
People drift apart and years go by. But sometimes, no matter the amount of separation, a relationship can come alive again like no time has passed. During a year when many of us haven't seen friends or family in months, that kind of reunion is soothing in a way. After an abrupt breakup ten years ago for Kris and Naomi, a lot has changed, but a lot has also stayed the same. Writer-director Mari Walker's debut feature, "See You Then," is an introspective film built on the use of beautiful and intimate framing and dialogue, making the audience a fly on the wall as these two exes reminiscent on the good times and bad.
A faraway look, unhappiness, is reflected on Kris's (Pooya Mohseni) face before she turns around to see her ex, Naomi (Lynn Chen). The latter seems a little shocked at first, saying that Kris looks so different. As they reconnect over dinner and drinks, talk about jobs and family, there's an elephant in the room: Kris's transition. It's not something that's avoided, but it's hard for Naomi to question or bring up at first. Kris's struggle with her gender wasn't something discussed or known during their college relationship, but Kris doesn't hold back as she discusses her battle against her transness and how fighting it almost destroyed her. It's one of the many raw, vulnerable conversations had and something incredibly rare to see in cinema, especially on the topic of sexuality and coming from a performer who is actually trans.
As the pair wine and dine, their faces are held in mostly close-ups but also framing them both intimately as they walk to their next destination. There are moments where one questions if there are still romantic feelings lingering between them, but while that isn't established, bitterness certainly is. The film is one honest conversation after the next. Whether it's about the trans experience, womanhood, sexism, and infertility, Walker unpacks them all skillfully. But these conversations slowly reveal pain bubbling on the surface on both sides as their split becomes a talking point. Naomi gets quiet, sullen, and a devastating secret comes out in the third act, creating much of the conflict between these two characters. Knives are pulled out of their respective backs and pointed at the other across a mood-lit room. Like many fights, it's messy and complicated and makes for a difficult watch towards the end as both actresses bring out their range to spew the most unforgiving thoughts.
Without a doubt, "See You Then" leaves the audience with a lot to chew on. Through their discussions and the film's explosive ending, Walker questions the difference between what we want to do and what we have to do for survival and how the word "woman" has no definition. Naomi is no more a woman than Kris is, and in a way, Kris makes an effort to point out that she's more of a woman than Naomi is because she doesn't deny what she needs for herself. By confronting Naomi about giving up her love of performance art, she brings up the good point that gender doesn't define a person; it's how we refuse to deny our own truth.