So much of what humanity has experienced in the past year has reshaped who we are as a society. In As of Yet, helmed by co-directors Chanel James and Taylor Garron, one Black woman’s pandemic experience comes to life through video diaries, facial expressions, and FaceTime calls. When the film opens, Naomi (Garron) has been isolated in Brooklyn for months. She spends her days having solo dance parties, buying random items on Amazon, cooking elaborate meals, pretending to do puzzles, and touching base with her family and friends.
Despite the distance and isolation, Naomi feels increasingly connected to her childhood best friends, Lyssa (Quinta Brunson) and Khadijah (Ayo Edebiri). However, her relationship with her college best friend and roommate, Sara (Eva Victor), who also happens to be a white woman, feels increasingly contrived and strained. Sara has long-escaped the Brooklyn apartment that she shares with Naomi. While the New York-based woman has remained indoors, venturing out only for groceries, Sara has been living in her family’s Florida home, barely adhering to social distancing and isolation guidelines. With differing approaches to the pandemic and conflicting views on the Black Lives Matter protests, the FaceTime calls between Naomi and Sara feel more like an emotional chore every day. Naomi soon realizes that despite the bleak state of the world, she’s been relishing her freedom and solace without the daily task of handling her self-absorbed friend with kid gloves.
In addition to her puzzles and virtual wine-downs with her cousin Sadie (Paula Akpan), Naomi has also spent the better part of her isolation FaceTiming with a guy named Reed (Amir Khan). Though the pandemic has prevented the duo from meeting in person, Reed has kept Naomi intrigued, laughing, and interested for months. On the 83rd day of the quarantine, with the weather warming and restrictions easing, the pair finally plan their socially distant first date. However, Sara throws a wrench in Naomi’s plans by announcing her impending return to Brooklyn and her disapproval of Naomi and Reed’s in-person adventure.
Recently, filmmakers have been composing narratives through monologues, text messages, photos, videos, and social media posts. This has been showcased in films like the Romeo + Juliet reimagining R#J and the HBO television film Coastal Elites. However, films that use this particular format have rarely felt more timely or as compelling as As of Yet. Garron delivers an emotionally raw portrayal of Naomi through her candid self-talks and her chats with her cousin Sadie about race, sex, and sexuality.
Though the pandemic will haunt people for years to come, As of Yet still has a lightness to it. There are more than a few laugh-out-loud moments, especially between Naomi, Lyssa, and Khajidah. The best friends are quick to tell Naomi about herself and express their disdain for Sara. There is also a hilarious debate about the race of the characters on the PBS cartoon Arthur that viewers will remember long after the credits roll.
Still, As of Yet isn’t a film about the pandemic. Instead, it’s a story about boundaries, growth, and why some friendships aren’t made to last a lifetime. Over the past year, being a Black woman, especially amid the deaths of Breonna Taylor and Oluwatoyin Salau, felt like a particular kind of isolation and deep pain. It quickly revealed the true intentions of those who call themselves allies.
Though quirky and humorous, the core of As of Yet reflects how much Black women swallow to keep the peace. At first, Naomi tries to jump through hoops, carefully tiptoeing around Sara’s fragile feelings. However, as the pandemic rages on and she longs to connect with Reed in person, she is forced to face the cracks in the friendship and why she’s allowed Sara to weaponize her white tears in their relationship. Though Naomi does everything in her power to avoid confrontation, she soon realizes that no matter how uncomfortable it may be, speaking up is the only way to truly honor herself.
As of Yet was reviewed at the 20th annual Tribeca Film Festival.