“See You Next Tuesday” is mostly bite, very little bark

The rise of female anti-heroines has been a refreshing change in entertainment in the last few years. There is a fine line however, in being an anti-hero and just plain unlikeable. There’s a special allure to anti-heroes like Piper Chapman, Claire Underwood, and very recently Scarlett Johansson’s Lucy. We may rail against them at times, unsure of their motives, but we ultimately find ourselves rooting for them. Unlikeable characters are a much harder sell. The title itself, See You Next Tuesday, is a sly way of referring to someone a c*nt. Now, I’m a lady, so I would never use such a term but the characters in See You Next Tuesday are certainly challenging. That is by design. However, that doesn’t make them compelling.

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The focal point of the film is Mona (newcomer Eleanore Pienta), a young woman who is days away from giving birth. Not that she knows when, as she hasn’t been to the doctor in months. Mona lacks self-awareness as much as she lacks social skills, which explains why she has trouble making friends. Save for a kindly fellow cashier at the grocery store where she works as a cashier, Mona’s world revolves around her family. Her mother May (Dana Eskelson) is a recovering addict who alternates between being doting and cruel. Mona’s sister Jordan (Molly Plunk) is an unemployed lesbian, living off of her long suffering girlfriend Sylve (Keisha Zollar). She’s also an alcoholic who goes off on drunken racist tangents, alienating everyone especially Sylve who is African-American herself.

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As Mona gets closer to giving birth, she starts to lose her already tenuous grip on reality. Her mother and sister don’t offer much stability considering how mired they are in their own dramas. The cast is very capable, with great performances all around. The scenes with Mona and her mother are whipsmart and darkly funny. It’s also cleverly filmed by director/writer Drew Tobia, and filled with shots that emphasize the ridiculousness and the desperation of Mona’s situation. About halfway through, the plot really starts to derail and becomes a jumble of uncomfortable scenes which distract from the greater potential of the film. Much of the latter half of the film deals with the fallout from Jordan’s reprehensible behavior, and Mona’s increasingly erratic behavior.

For fans of dark and twisty dramadies, See You Next Tuesday is a safe, if uneven bet. However, if you are searching for an anti-heroine to get really behind, you may be disappointed. The fractured family tale could have really soared if only the audience was given a change to invest in the characters.

See You Next Tuesday opens today at the Cinema Village in New York City, and digitally on August 26th.

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