One of the more cutting barbs in Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha arrives when its beleaguered ingenue, strapped for cash and eager to bemoan it, complains to her roommate of being poor. "You're not poor," he retorts, and anyway, "that's offensive to actual poor people." It's in complaint, perhaps, that privilege most noxiously announces itself. We could all probably stand to better recognize the difference between being broke in the sense meant by twentysomething Brooklynites and "actual" poverty. More films with an interest in the latter might be a start.
To this end, Drew Tobia's new comedy See You Next Tuesday steps in the right direction. Tobia understands that to be poor is to feel poorness dominate and define you, and he deftly illustrates the sensation, subtle but unceasing, of debt and need gnawing away. His hero is Mona (Eleanore Pienta), a very pregnant twentysomething languishing behind the counter of a discount grocery store checkout. Mona lives alone in a shabby flophouse studio that boasts a communal toilet and men who masturbate in the foyer. She has no savings, no friends, and no significant other to speak of. And her baby is due any day.
In other words, Mona is poor enough that you worry two lives may be in danger. But one of the most refreshing things about See You Next Tuesday is its refusal to regard Mona as a tragic subject to be lamented from a dramatic remove.