In See You Yesterday two young science geniuses figure out how to travel through time. They use their time machines to try to save a life.
Eden Duncan-Smith as Claudette ‘CJ’ Walker and Dante Crichlow as her friend Sebastian J. Thomas are at the center of See You Yesterday. They are the brilliant minds behind the time machine.
CJ and Sebastian work in Sabastian’s garage to create their devices, which they wear in backpacks and control with their phones. They are juniors in high school, working to get scholarships to colleges – Spelman and MIT among them – and this is their science project for the year.
Their science teacher is Michael J. Fox, in a nice homage to Back to the Future. All the other characters are people of color in this film set in Flatbush, NY. The most important other characters are CJ’s brother Calvin (Astro) and their circuit board creating classmate Eduardo (Johnathan Nieves).
The film, directed by Stefon Bristol, was co-written by Fredrica Bailey and Stefon Bristol. It tries to do a whole lot of things in one story, and mostly succeeds. The opening scene is a peaceful stroll through the streets of Flatbush with people going about their daily lives on the last day of school. We see that CJ and Sebastian have loving families and great homes.
Then we get into the science fiction aspects of the story. CJ and Sebastian try out their time machines. They can only go back one day in their initial trial, and they can only stay gone for 10 minutes. Although they figure out how to go back more than one day in later efforts, they remain tied to the 10 minute limit.
Tragically, CJ’s brother Calvin is killed by a police officer. He was innocent of any wrong doing, but he was a black man in the street when the cops were chasing a robber. That was enough to get him killed. That put a theme of Black Lives Matter and police brutality over the story.
As I said, that sounds like a lot going on thematically in See You Yesterday, but it manages to work.
CJ has a time machine. She convinces Sebastian they should go back to the day Calvin was killed and save him. Sebastian warns her about unintended consequences, but she’s determined to save her brother.
They try. Repeatedly. The consequences of each effort are different and sometimes unacceptably high. Each effort reinforces the overarching themes of family and love, science fiction whiz bang, and Black Lives Matter.
I loved seeing Eden Duncan-Smith as the brilliant scientific mind driving the story. Her black hair style and glasses reminded me of Storm Reid in A Wrinkle in Time. Another homage. Having a bright young woman of color who wants to be a scientist at the center of a film makes See You Yesterday a winner on that basis alone.
Watch the Trailer
Have you seen See You Yesterday? What did you think of it?