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Stir Crazy

As-of-yet-movie-review-taylor-garron
Jamal Solomon

MOVIE REVIEW
as of yet (2021)

As a masterclass in how to make the best of what you’ve got, “as of yet” is well worth seeing, both for its subject and its circumstances. This is a movie set in 2020 New York City so therefore of the pandemic, but it is not about the pandemic. Writer-co-director-star Taylor Garron threads a very difficult line there, but manages to pull it off. The restrictions of living at a distance from other people become the point, and it’s clever how this is managed.

Naomi (Ms. Garron) has been alone in her apartment since lockdown started three months ago; her roommate/best friend since college Sara (Eva Victor) fled to her parents’ house in Florida. They videochat all the time, but cracks are starting to appear in the friendship – Sara has not been supportive of Naomi’s attendance at Black Lives Matter protests; and Naomi was a little shocked at Sara’s Insta posts showing her out, unmasked, with her hometown friends. While Naomi is chatting about her plans to finally meet up with Reed (Amir Khan), the guy she’s been dating virtually for a while, Sara announces she’s going to return to the city the same night. It’s clear she assumes she’ll be Naomi’s priority. Naomi is surprised and upset, but doesn’t say so. Instead she does a very ordinary thing – she discusses her feelings about Sara and her “white shenanigans” with everyone but Sara. In addition to Reed, this includes her parents (Colleen Pina-Garron and Christopher Garron), her cousin in London (Paula Akpan) and a dad getting coffee on the sidewalk (Anthony Allman) with whom she has a shouted, slightly hysterical, very funny discussion about how well her mental health is going. Naomi is also keeping a video diary for herself, which bookends the days.

This is a fine depiction of a quarter-life crisis and one woman’s assessment of whether a cherished friendship is actually all that good anymore. It’s knowing about the subtleties of privilege, white or not, and the risks privilege allows a person to take. It shows the mental gymnastics a black person has to do in order to maintain friendships with even the most well-meaning white person, and it understands from the inside how cultural differences have to be navigated together or else. It also has a weary understanding of the ways in which life under lockdown has damaged, or enhanced, personal relationships, especially if someone has been living on their own. Jamal Solomon’s cinematography makes full use of Naomi’s apartment and the screens through which she interacts with the world; and Melissa Khan’s editing keeps the small spaces feeling fresh and spacious. Mark and Jay Duplass are among the producers, but while this bears some similarity to “Language Lessons,” their involvement is certainly in support of Ms. Garron and co-director’s Chanel James’s ability to build an engaging, charming, relatable film on a limited budget.

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