See You Yesterday (2019) – Summary, Review (With Spoilers)

Tribeca Film Festival Coverage

Title Card - See You Yesterday
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See You Yesterday is one of those, “I wish this came out when I was growing up” kind of movies that represent there is true change in the entertainment industry.


Director(s) Stefon Bristol
Screenplay By Fredrica Bailey, Stefon Bristol
Date Released 5/17/2019
Genre(s) Sci-Fi, Drama
Good If You Like Black Nerds

A Strong Sense of Culture From Characters To Environment

Isn’t For You If You Don’t Wanna See Police Brutality
Noted Cast
CJ Eden Duncan-Smith
Sebastian Dante Crichlow
Eduardo Johnathan Nieves
Calvin Brian “Stro” Bradley

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See You Yesterday Plot Summary

16-year-olds CJ and Sebastian are math both serious tech geeks. Not in terms of something basic like building computers and fixing phones, but likely being on their way to MIT, Morehouse, and Spellman. All they need if for this time machine they’ve been working on to work and they’ll be set by the time senior year starts in August.

However, with the death of CJ’s older brother, Calvin, plans change. No longer is the time machine to be used to get them into MIT and likely set them for life. Now the plan is using it so that they can save Calvin. That is, if they don’t end up causing something as bad, if not worse than Calvin’s death to happen.

 

Other Noteworthy Facts & Moments

  • Actress _ is an actual physics major and helped tweaked the science in the script to make it real.
  • Michael J. Fox makes a cameo and says a certain notable catchphrase.

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. What exactly happened to Sebastian’s parents?
  2. While it is clear CJ and Calvin’s father were in the military, what specifically happened to him?

Highlights

It’s Black As Hell (Specifically Brooklyn Black)

From the bodegas to the odd Jamaican man with his cart, the music, the attitudes, and local slang, there is nothing about See You Yesterday which doesn’t say this is Black. Even in terms of the reactions to CJ and Sebastian sucking their teeth and the fear when their parents, grandparents in CJ’s case, react, you see what is beyond social cues and is just how Black people, across the diaspora, act.

Blerds

CJ (Eden Duncan-Smith) doing science.
CJ (Eden Duncan-Smith)

Representation is everything. So imagine seeing two, albeit 16 year old, nerds who are so heavily into science they are willing to steal from school to have the materials they need. Sadly, the idea seems foreign since you rarely ever see it. And the few examples of tech-savvy characters who are Black are predominately men.

CJ

Making CJ such a notable and pertinent character. She is an around the way girl who will curse you out, fight you, but is also the smartest and potentially sweetest kid you know. CJ is basically a combination of what Black women are damned for while being all that those with respectability politics want for the future of Black people. Thus creating this full-blooded person who not only is on Sebastian’s level, if not beyond his talents, but has no shame in her Blackness.

CJ & Calvin

A picture of Calvin (Brian Bradley) and CJ (Eden Duncan-Smith)
Calvin (Brian Bradley) and CJ (Eden Duncan-Smith)

At the heart of the film is CJ trying to save her brother and with Astro not being part of the short this is based on, it may make you wonder what his chemistry is like with Duncan-Smith? Well, let’s just say by the time the film is at its end, you’ll be in your feelings a bit because of these two. For what they have, chemistry-wise, is a slow burn. Calvin, at first, is that big brother keeping his tough little sister from biting off more than she can chew. However, as we see their relationship is beyond him trying to step in for their dad, and see them truly bond, and recognize she is fighting for his life for her, not necessarily for her mom, you may get one of those Denzel in Glory tears.

The Eduardo & Sebastian Situation

There is something about Eduardo, this equally smart kid at CJ’s Bronx school being in love with her since the 4th grade which has to do something for you. For it reminds you that CJ is still a girl. One who might be rough around the edges, often ready to fight, and likely the smartest person for miles, but that doesn’t void her being seen as attractive. Mind you, Eduardo doesn’t even make it seem like a physical thing either. When he talks about her with his grandmother, he is all smiles and giggles, calling her his princess and it is so pure and cute that it makes you wish the film did let us see them go on at least one date.

As for Sebastian, you get something similar but a necessary difference. What you have to love about Sebastian is he balances out Eduardo by maybe hinting he might have had feelings, or low-key does, but that he values CJ apart from maybe dating him. She is his best friend, likely the person he’ll write many patents and papers with, and they grew up together. Her family is his on the level I’m sure CJ’s mom could whoop Sebastian’s ass and his grandmother would say, “She probably had a good reason” and that’d be the end of it.

And you have to appreciate that since it allowed the film to make romance clearly something that could be part of CJ’s life, but not have it dominate the story or have it take away from what CJ’s real focus should be.

It’s Hilarious

Sebastian (Dante Crichlow) and CJ (Eden Duncan-Smith) laughing.
Sebastian (Dante Crichlow) and CJ (Eden Duncan-Smith)

Expanding on the Black as hell topic, it is also funny as hell too. Be it small characters, like the odd Jamaican guy, the way people come at each other, it all just brings you the total experience of being, and growing up in, an urban area. Making it so, even if you aren’t from Brooklyn, or have gotten a taste of the Bronx, if you grew up in an urban environment, you’ll likely recognize certain people, their ways, and it’ll push you to realize how much is universal.

On The Fence

The Ending

Simply put, while you could derive different kinds of messages from it, if you aren’t the type to overthink things, you might be frustrated.

Overall: Positive (Worth Seeing)Recommended

Available on Netflix May 17th

See You Yesterday is the kind of film, despite my love for Netflix, I wished was theatrically released and became the hit it deserves to be. For while Black Panther and movies like that are hits and bring a sense of pride, it is the creation of films like these, seeing them praised by critics and people who pay for things which shows real change. Which makes you feel that the conversations in the decision rooms are shifting and for those who feel that the criminal element of Black culture is still too predominate, there are alternatives.

Leading to why the positive label and recommendation: This film has a little something for everyone. We have a tech-wiz young woman, who may mention MIT as one of her first choices but adds Spellman as a close second. Also, said girl isn’t an outsider in her community, one who is a social leper. She is both a product of her environment and a reminder that her environment breeds all kinds of people. And also, when speaking of said environment, be it Eduardo or Sebastian, we’re reminded she isn’t some special snowflake, there are many like her. And I could go on and on from the sense of culture presented, to how funny and sometimes touching it is. Plain and simple, you need to watch See You Yesterday and take in its brilliance.

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