From the moment Michelle Ehlen’s Maybe Someday begins, it’s all too obvious that heartbreak is the core emotion of the narrative. When non-binary lesbian Jay (Ehlen, also serving as the film’s writer) arrives at the home of Lily (Jeneen Robinson), who we then learn is Jay’s estranged wife, there’s a sense of defeat in her delivery. We catch her realigning her breath and her wits before entering Lily’s apartment for a casual dinner. Being shot from Jay’s perspective also means the intimacy and awkwardness is inescapable, with her sadness and Lily’s more pleasant demeanour a stark contrast, driving home that all too unfortunate reality of loving someone who no longer loves you.
Feeling almost documentary-like in its approach to its storytelling – the acting ensemble all bring a sense of realism to their roles – Jay’s journey of self-discovery sets her on a path towards Los Angeles. She claims it’s always been a dream of hers, though it seems more that it’s the easiest place to run away from heartbreak and humiliation. On the way she stops in to visit childhood friend Jess (Shaela Cook), now divorced and a single mother, who, as we learn through a series of flashbacks, was a formative figure in the young Jay’s journey towards realising her sexuality; Eliza Blair proving stellar as the teenaged Jay.
Formative she may have been, Jess is seemingly unaware of the affection Jay harboured for her, and this cyclical mentality of being attracted to an unattainable friend is one that remains unbroken for the healing Jay; the film initially painting their friendship with a familiar brush, but, thankfully, as Maybe Someday progresses so too does their dynamic, with deep-seated wounds, possible resentments, and hidden truths coming to light.
If you’re worried about Maybe Someday‘s temperament though after reading so far it isn’t all doom and gloom, with the introduction of Tommy (Chad Steers) livening up the film with this terrible stand-up comedy and brash inappropriateness. He initially comes off as one of those characters who’s “too much”, but it’s evident over time that his loud obnoxiousness is masking his own pain, with he and Jay finding a kindredness in one another; Jess feels less of a bond with him though, evoking a sense of jealousy in how much fun Jay seems to share with him, further bringing their own relationship into question as Jess tries to relive their friendship with mixed results.
Aiming for comedy without resorting to exaggerated situational set-pieces, and honing a sense of drama that stems from a real fear of those in open relationships, Maybe Someday is a well-rounded feature that revels in its grounded mind-frame. It may not be the most exciting film, but it’s smart in its narrative depiction and there’s a beautiful truth running through it, with Ehlen’s imperfect Jay managing to be a wholly relatable character in spite of her specific sexual identity.
Maybe Someday is screening as part of this year’s Cinequest Film Festival, running between April 1st and 17th, 2022, both virtually and in-person.