Big up to Spike Lee! When he greenlit and bankrolled this project it was like him grabbing a fistful of play money and running down to Belize to have some fun in the sun. That the movie never strays from Spike’s principles of uplifting the race and shining a klieg light on racial injustice lands it in a place of honor on the 40A filmography spectrum, somewhere between School Daze and Do the Right Thing!
See You Yesterday is one part science fiction travel fantasy and one part urban social commentary that refuses to become just another after school special by fully engaging the world’s current protest climate. The movie is perfectly texturized, of Brooklyn, by Brooklyn, for Brooklyn. Set in Spike’s backyard, the now heavily Caribbean American East Flatbush, it introduces us to a group of kids we’re not used to seeing as nerds. Part of the movie’s genius is in making their braininess cool, even as they strike a Faustian deal with themselves and spend the entire movie trying to reclaim what’s been lost.
Eden Duncan Smith, Dante Crichlow, and Brian Brasley turn in strong debut performances that will inspire teens to consider the profession. The film captures the energy of the Black Lives Matter movement and the reframed, now national discussion about policing in black neighborhoods. The premise creates a tenuous bubble that the director skillfully manages to avoid bursting. We want the main duo to succeed and the ending sets up another go of it.
These kinds of movies don’t lend themselves to Hollywood endings. But as the credits rolled I found myself finally hopeful that in at least one corner of the diaspora there’s a chance things could be made right.