Teenage Girl Meets Adult Self, Disappointment Ensues, in We Go Way Back

The 2006 debut of Seattle indie queen Lynn Shelton (My Effortless Brilliance, Humpday), this earnest, inventive micro-drama bounces gently from room-of-one’s-own brooding to sharp-eyed theater-company satire, ending up in a hand-holding metaspace that feels as lost as its heroine (Amber Hubert), a placid aspiring actress contemplating the sealed letters she wrote to her future self when she was 13. How Shelton’s everygirl went from a brave and inquisitive preteen to the dim-bulb sexual doormat she is in the present is a mystery; in the meantime, her untethered experimental-troupe director (Robert Hamilton Wright, in a guileless and hilarious performance) asks her to play Hedda Gabler, but do it in Norwegian and surrounded by an ever-growing mountain of potatoes. Eventually, the 13-year-old version (Maggie Brown) shows up in the flesh, and for all of the film’s preciousness (the letters are a coy invention, and the song interludes take up far too much real estate), the pungent notion of having your young-teen self gazing in horrified disappointment at the adult you’ve failed to become is as fresh a thematic undertow as it is disquieting.

 
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