Recognizing that one needs to let go after loss is half the battle; actually letting go is multilayered pain all by itself, which, deep down, one realizes may never be resolved.
Michelle Ehlen’s Maybe Someday (★★★★☆) — which she wrote, directs, and stars in — is a deeply moving and frequently delightful meditation on rebuilding life after loss.
Ehlen plays Jay, who is moving across the country after separating from her wife Lily (Jeneen Robinson), their relationship is beautifully and painfully referenced in flashbacks throughout the film.
Jay is trying to find out who she is without her soon-to-be ex-wife and cobbles together an understanding of her core through Jess (Shaela Cook), an old high school flame, and Tommy (Charlie Steers), a charming gay man she meets during the trip.
Anyone who has experienced profound grief understands the sense of wave-rolling sadness that laps at the brain’s edges over time, the tides hitting at less frequent intervals with each passing month, each passing year, but always coming back in unexpected moments. It could be a song or a phrase or an object or any thousand other things that provoke a memory and beckon its attachments.
Ehler is quite brilliant in illustrating how those waves of grief land on our shores, even in those moments in which we have no business feeling pangs of sadness. Because that’s how mourning works — it’s not something that can simply be turned off; it must be recognized and managed and, yes, tolerated in order to be survived.
Ehler’s character appears to be in that Gen-X slash elder Millennial space of queer folks who came-of-age, open or closeted or some combination of the two, in the late nineties and early aughts.
That was an exciting and terrifying time, and the flashbacks of Jay as a young queer person, navigating complicated feelings with presumably straight people, feels strangely bittersweet and oddly similar to navigating those complicated feelings as an adult.
In some ways, Jay is a marker of progress — a queer woman who is living life on her own terms, however uncomfortable at moments. And in some ways, she is a reminder of how far we have left to go, a respectful recognition of the challenges still experienced by queer people.
Ehler accomplishes this without being preachy or pandering. Her writing is exquisite, confident, and at numerous points, quite funny. She doesn’t seem to have anything here to prove, and the result is a gorgeously realized reflection of authenticity.
Maybe Someday is available in the virtual festival through Sunday, Oct. 23 at 11:59 p.m. Click here for details on how to purchase passes.
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