“The Adventures of Pete and Pete” DVDs that sit on the bookshelf in Naomi’s apartment in “As of Yet” are a tip-off to the formative years of its star/writer and co-director Taylor Garron, who in character says 1995’s “Heavyweights” is the one film she truly loves, but you suspect off-screen she might have some affection for indie romcoms of the era like “Walking and Talking” and “Hav Plenty” that bereft of a resources that could afford pricey locations and familiar needle drops relied instead on the scrappy charm of its cast and high anxiety to propel it forward. Garron and co-director Chanel James may not have had an alternative in making a film during a pandemic, but regardless of the circumstances in which it was conceived, “As of Yet” has that same refreshing energy about it, showing there’s no better production value than to have sharp writing.
Despite not leaving the house for months, Naomi finds herself between a rock and a hard place when her roommate Sara (Eva Victor) has decamped for Florida to spend quarantine with her parents. Left to her own devices in New York, Naomi has struck up a relationship online with Reed (Amir Khan) and with both eager to find out whether the chemistry is as strong in person as it is over FaceTime, the two make a socially distanced date at a park, though naturally Sara decides to come home earlier than planned, leaving Naomi to wonder if she should stay the course and disappoint her best friend since college by not being around to welcome her back or shut the door on Reed.
While Naomi yearns for “someone to touch my butt” after 83 days in isolation, there’s no shortage of people in her ear about how to handle her dilemma and while the premise may sound thin, what Garron and James capture in excruciatingly accurate detail is how this seemingly minor issue becomes all-consuming when having too much time to think and too little physical interaction with others. Although Naomi has no real frame of reference for how Reed will react, she increasingly sees Sara as a stranger after she seems rather blasé about the Black Lives Matter movement and when race has always been complicated for the young Black woman from Amherst, the idea that it could come between herself and her longtime friend starts intruding on every conversation she has with others.
“As of Yet” is impressively casual for how thoughtfully executed it is, with Garron not only being a naturally engaging presence in front of the camera, but handling everything with a light touch storywise. Having Naomi carefully describe exactly what type of eggshells Naomi’s walking on at one point, differentiating between the harder-to-crack ostrich shells and those more delicate quail eggs, is indicative of how the film cleverly wends its way around a number of uncomfortable subjects to hilarious effect, capturing the hypersensitivity of the moment without ever falling into easy parody and in observing how a most trying year revealed people at their essence for better or worse, Garron seems like one of the happy discoveries.
“As of Yet” will screen virtually through the Tribeca Film Festival starting on June 12th at 6 pm EST and available to stream until June 23rd.