Here is a walk-and-talk film that brings to mind the nocturnal strolls of Richard Linklater’s Before series. Mari Walker’s feature debut is a quietly volatile anatomy of a past relationship. More than a decade after they have parted ways, Kris (Pooya Mohseni) and Naomi (Lynn Chen) meet again for a trip down memory lane, as the pair spend an evening dining together and visiting their old college stomping ground.
Kris has now transitioned, and seeing her former partner as a woman for the first time appears to induce feelings of inferiority in Naomi. In contrast to Kris’s contentment in living her truth, Naomi (who used to be a performance artist in college) is now a dissatisfied shadow of her former self. Bitterness slowly bubbles underneath the playful and friendly facade of the reunion, ultimately boiling over into an explosive argument. But the achilles heel of talky films such as this one is the danger of the writer speaking through the characters instead of allowing dialogue to unfold naturally, and as they touch on issues such as motherhood or sexuality, the conversations between Kris and Naomi occasionally fall into that didactic trap. Even so, Mohseni and Chen share an authentic chemistry that means their line readings sing with emotional vitality.
Walker’s film, she is trans herself, is especially commendable in its resistance to moralise; the final spat between Kris and Naomi, where all past resentments rise to the surface, is especially acute in its understanding of how love can culminate in hurtful jabs. Despite its flaws, See You Then is an interesting opportunity to see trans talents in front of and behind the camera.