Elevate Difference

It Was Great, But I Was Ready To Come Home

Directed by Kris Swanberg

The mythical tropical vacation: surfing, tequila, half-naked beauties, sunsets, dancing, delicious food, and life-changing vistas. It Was Great, But I Was Ready To Come Home strips the glorified ideal of self-discovery down to its reality: bugs, dodgy tacos, heat, dodgy people, heat, dodgy beds, and heat.

I watched this film with a half dozen expatriate women living in Mexico City. All of us are travelers; we've backpacked and we have our own stories that could fill up the big screen. So why would this movie be worth watching? Why not just sit around and tell stories about events that actually happened? Because we're not filmmakers. We're not storytellers. And in her first feature film, Kris Swanberg proves she is.

It Was Great, But I Was Ready To Come Home is about a young city girl who goes on a proverbial Costa Rica trip with her best friend. They embark in their rental car with maps, big backpacks, rudimentary Spanish, and some farcical American mores. The dramatic scenery changes from one village to the next, but the plot stays simple: a girl has her heart broken by her boyfriend and goes to paradise with her long-time friend to conquer her demons. Unfortunately, heartbreak is not simple, and tequila does not drive away demons.

Dialogue between the girls reveals two very different perspectives on relationships. The endearing Annie (played by Swanberg herself) has a woe-is-me point of view of someone going through the first big breakup. Her friend, Cam (played by Jade Healy) is more jaded and cynical—someone who has already started closing the door on romantic emotions, and simultaneously, on the pitiful Annie.

This movie is surprisingly good, and extremely indie. It exists somewhere between truth and fiction, scripts and improv, a movie and the looking glass. It is relatable, as there are moments where you want to stand up and say, "Yes! Thank you! It is annoying when your friend is more charming and sexy and happy than you are." Swanberg and her small crew capture subtle and honest moments with characters that are far from glamorous, and as likable as they are unlikable.

Near the end of their trip, Annie walks alone through the village streets to find water for the pitiful Cam. (Ah, how the tables can turn!) There is not much to say about the scene other than that it is perfect. If you have ever been to a place where you don’t look right, speak right, or feel right, you will empathize with our doe-eyed Annie.

We expats laughed a lot, yelled at the screen, and the recently brokenhearted among us even cried. This movie is not about two bubbly friends who travel to an eco-tourist destination, but quite tritely, it's about the universal journey we all share.

Written by: Katy Pine, December 2nd 2009

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