Written by: Kristen Uno & Mari Walker
Starring: Pooya Mohseni, Lynn Chen, Danny Jacobs, Nican Robinson
Reminiscing on past endeavors allow for recollection of some of the great moments, but also the bitter reality of what occurred, especially if some semblance of harm transpired. A distinct situation anyone reuniting with someone they have intimately known encounters and the insightful and mature conversations held in See You Then seeks to sink its teeth into the meaty issues at hand. Beautifully poignant in its approach, even with it not necessarily sticking the landing at the end, this feature presents such a welcomed experience.
Reuniting for the first time in years, Naomi (Lynn Chen) meets up with her ex, Kris (Pooya Mohseni) at a diner. As they reminisce about their past, both the good and the bad, they cannot escape the elephant in the room of Kris’s transition. As they navigate the night through walks on the street, a distinct love and bitterness re-enters their relationship.
Watching See You Then nearly feels like a radical experience because of the way we actually have a trans character portrayed by a trans actor. Something that unfortunately does not always occur, but when handling how a transition could impact a relationship like seen in this film, the proper perspective remains integral and ultimately is what makes this film work. Almost like walking around eggshells, Kris’s transition becomes a major part of the film, especially when knowing the relationship between these two women occurred when Naomi knew Kris prior to the said transition.
Yes, this serves as one of the main focal points, but See You Then becomes more than just that as it breaks down the various little topics between these two as they walk through these streets simply trying to catch up in their lives. Both in different places on a familial level and in their careers, they have both changed and stayed the same in various ways. In a sense, the very adult nature of this story allows for the audience to just simply sit as a fly on the wall for all of this reminiscing almost as if we’re sitting in on an intimate conversation we were not invited to. Small details get shared about their relationship at its height, but the steaming anger of how things ended between them still hangs over the conversation and we just know it will be brought up. What remains clear as the narrative progresses is that both of these women have lived quite the set of lives and the more they speak, the more intriguing it gets to see where the narrative goes.
As much as this feature focuses on the relationship between the two women, both Naomi and Kris speak about larger societal issues impacting them, which directly speak on the latter’s trans experience and how she experiences being a woman compared to Naomi. In these moments, the relationship gets spiky as they talk about sexism in the workplace and in other aspects of life and how it differs between them. It creates an honest and frank conversation that usually does not get aired in a public setting but the distinct closeness these two have allows for this larger discussion to have a level of openness. Part of that comes from the comfortability Kris has to speak on these issues, but also Naomi’s insistence in talking about it. In this way, See You Then shows just how insightful it can be and displays the defining strength of the feature comes from its screenplay. The way it beautifully weaves through these different topics of conversations all contributing to the overall discussion these two want to have about their relationship really threads the needle in a satisfying manner.
While admittedly not having much familiarity with Lynn Chen and Pooya Mohseni prior to this viewing experience, they truly impressed in the way they managed to continually captivate when on screen. When the narrative remains between the two of them with plenty of use of closeups on their faces, the film heavily relies on them to deliver the strong dialogue in an effective manner and they do a capable job in delivering it all. They both do so well in capturing the small moments between them, from the looks one hopes the other does not see.
All culminating in a boisterous finale that leaves film lacking a bit, See You Then remains a feature that deserves plenty of attention and recognition. The frankness of the conversation, especially with the subject material brought up serves as such a strong debut feature for Mari Walker as nothing otherworldly occurs through her direction but rather through the script co-written by Kristen Uno. Even if the audience cannot share in the experience of Naomi and Kris, having to reconnect with someone who meant the world to you long ago feels like such a relatable experience and this film gets right at the core of the impact this would have on these individuals involved.