In this episode of the podcast, we compare writer-director Kris Rey’s two most recent films about women in their 30s: Unexpected and I Used to Go Here. Both films feature an intergenerational relationship between the thirtysomething protagonist and a teenager or young adult, and navigate both personal and professional problems. We also briefly discuss the Canadian film Spinster, which covers similar ground.
This episode features Editor-in-Chief Alex Heeney, Executive Editor Orla Smith, and Associate Editor Brett Pardy.
Kris Rey’s I Used to Go Here (2020)
In I Used to Go Here, Gillian Jacobs stars as Kate, a newly published writer in her mid-30s, who returns to her alma mater for a few days to give a book reading, only to end up hanging out with the new generation of students there. Kate is in the midst of a bit of an identity crisis as all of her friends are suddenly married and pregnant, while she’s lost her self-confidence after the end of a relationship. Through her new friendship with the current generation of college students, she recovers a part of her younger self she’s lost, regresses a bit, and gains hope for the future from these kids who are more emotionally mature than her contemporaries.
Kris Rey’s Unexpected (2015)
Kris Rey’s sweet and quiet Unexpected is about two unexpectedly pregnant women — high school science teacher Samantha (Cobie Smulders) and her star, under-privileged student Jasmine (talented newcomer Gail Bean) — who are forced to come to terms with the major life changes that come with having a baby. Swanberg and co-writer Megan Mercier avoid all the cliches of the student-teacher friendship stories, offering a careful exploration of privilege, race, and female friendship. Although Samantha has a supportive husband (Anders Holm), the fathers are barely present in the film, a gentle and touching reminder that when it comes to pregnancy, women are ultimately going it alone.
Andrea Dorfman’s Spinster (2020)
Andrea Dorfman’s Spinster takes place over the course of a year in the life of Gaby, from her 39th to her 40th birthday, who begins the movie by being dumped by her boyfriend, and ends up contentedly single. At first, she’s desperately searching for a romantic partner, but as she starts to forge meaningful platonic relationships — with the older ‘spinster’ upstairs, her brother, her niece, her new dog, and rekindling her friendship with her best friend — she discovers the there are other ways to be happy than to get married and have children. Gaby begins the film as a caterer, and then, through repairing her relationship with her father, is able to open her own restaurant, finding joy in her professional success.
- Read Alex Heeney’s 2015 interview with Kris Rey on Unexpected.
- Read Alex Heeney’s 2020 interview with Kris Rey on I Used to Go Here.
- Read Orla Smith’s interview with director Andrea Dorfman on Spinster.
- Listen to our podcast on portraits of female artists.
- Listen to our podcast on working mothers, in which we discuss Proxima and Baby Boom.
- Listen to our podcast on abortion on screen, featuring Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Saint Frances, and 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days.
- Watch the Lockdown Film School episode on portraits of female artists with directors Anne Émond (Nelly) and Madeleine Olnek (Wild Nights with Emily).
- Watch the Lockdown Film School episode on collaboration and telling female stories with co-directors Kathleen Hepburn and Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers (The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open) and co-stars and co-writers Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava (Mouthpiece).
Where to watch the films
- I Used to Go Here is available to rent on VOD in Canada and the US on iTunes, Vimeo, and Google Play. It will be available on VOD in the UK on September 14.
- Unexpected is streaming on Prime, Tubi, and Kanopy in Canada and the US. It is available to rent or purchase on iTunes in Canada (buy for just $5.99), Google Play and YouTube in Canada, the US, and the UK, and it’s also available to rent/buy on Amazon in the UK.
- Spinster is available to rent on VOD in Canada, the US, and UK on iTunes and Google Play.
Roads to Nowhere: Kelly Reichardt’s Broken American dreams
- Purchase your copy of our newest ebook to discover how modern master Kelly Reichardt operates, and to read a series of essays about each of Reichardt’s films, which examine her thoughtful, quiet portraits of everyday lives.
- Read a free chapter from Roads To Nowhere, featuring an interview with Lily Gladstone
- Purchase your Kelly Reichardt mug