Time travel has been a topic in pop culture since H.G. Well’s The Time Machine dropped in 1895 and for good reason. It plays with the idea that we can change things that were set in stone, avert tragedies or even get a glimpse of what is to come. Stefon Bristol’s debut film See You Yesterday is a strong addition to a genre that has primarily had a white focus with its protagonists and subject matter.
The film is a full length adaptation of his 2017 short film of the same name and stars Eden Duncan-Smith as Claudette “CJ” Walker, a genius West-Indian Brooklynite teenager who along with her best friend Sebastian “Bash” Thomas (and a couple of pieces of lab equipment “borrowed” from The Bronx School of Science) have invented a way to travel back in time so they can get scholarships to the college of their dreams. What is originally approached in a light-hearted manner (getting back at an ex-boyfriend for lying about her promiscuity) turns to tragedy as CJ’s older brother Calvin and friend Dennis are shot and killed by police in a case of mistaken identity. Can CJ prevent this from happening or will a butterfly effect ripple out from her actions and make it worse?
The cast does a great job in their roles, with Duncan-Smith doing a balancing act between hot-headed and vulnerable and Dante Crichlow (who plays Bash) as the goofy voice of reason. Astro, who played Calvin, had great on-screen chemistry with Duncan-Smith and were very believable as brother and sister and could feel that they grew up in the same household. Brooklyn itself feels like a character, giving viewers an intimate glimpse into the East Flat Bush and getting acquainted with the residents (shout out to the oils and soap guy, I’ve met 3 guys like him over the years and they’ve always been clutch) and the costume design is DOPE! I love the denim lab coats, props to Charlese Jones on the design.
The topic of police brutality can be a tough one to explore but extremely necessary as Black Americans are routinely harassed and even killed by police at a disproportionately higher rate compared to the rest of the US population and holding officers accountable for their actions can be extremely difficult. Within this framework See You Yesterday spins an honest, heart-tugging narrative about the lengths one will go to get back a loved one. It’s a highly recommended watch.
Exclusively on Netflix