A Very New York Modern Love Story: A Review of See you Soon

By Lilo DiGiovanni

Tyler Rabinowitz’s tender film “See You Soon” (2020) may be 16 minutes long, but its storytelling is packed with raw emotions. Despite the director’s short track record in filmmaking, directing only one and producing three–“The Mess He Made” in 2017, “How I Got to the Moon by Subway” in 2018, and “Lavender” in 2019–he has earned recognition from former President of the United States, Barack Obama, in 2011 and among various film academies.

As a graduate from NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Rabinowitz pays homage to his young adulthood stomping grounds in “See You Soon.” The film centers around two gay men, Anthony (Jonny Beauchamp) and Vincent (James Cusati-Moyer), meeting up for the first time in their long-distance relationship. Over 72 hours they unpack their emotional baggage while exploring the city and each other’s minds. The film engulfs you into their lives in a way that makes you forget you’re streaming the film through your Roku TV at home. Yup. See You Soon is currently streaming through OUTFEST, a queer film festival that has shifted virtually to reach audiences more safely. OUTFEST, created in 1982, is a space for emerging filmmakers to shape connections with big production companies. The festival pampers its members with panels, viewings, and events that all celebrate queer voices.

Figure 1. Tyler Rabinowitz’s short, “See You Soon” (Rubbertape 2020), movie poster

Upon entering the OUTFEST’s website, we are hit with colorful banners and fun series thumbnails. OUTFEST’s interface is easy to use with the features of a simple menu bar and banner scrolls. The festival has a diverse list of films shows and panels. I did end up watching a few panels and was happily surprised by the overall visual and content quality. I have attended film festivals before the pandemic and, although those experiences were fun, I can confidently say attending a virtual festival is more my pace. For some of the panels and “See You Soon,” I invited a small group of friends to experience the virtual festival with me. With OUTFEST, I was allowed to watch all the features I wanted to on my own time, rather than trying to create a hectic schedule. I love the fact that I was in charge of creating the space in which the features were watched. As an introvert, I appreciated the fact that I was in charge of picking who I watched the films with, unlike going in person. The virtual component made for a more intimate experience. 

The virtual platform did not appear to represent one location; rather, it did a great job at representing modern, global queer identities and communities, whether through the diverse collections that they crafted or various programs that they curated. I was given the sense that the festival is a welcoming community. By being a member of the festival, I did feel part of the community. The platform made me feel safe and special and gave me a sense of pride in ownership as if the space was ours.

At the end of my experience with OUTFEST, I was able to understand why festivals like these are important in providing so much for those who are scared, confused, and hungry to learn more. LGBTQ+ festivals like this treat representation in a more realistic way because they are not funded by big production companies, which can often skew the depiction of queer experience. As queer stories are becoming more mainstream, positive and negative outcomes emerge. Nevertheless, more exposure will always create better representation.

In “Queer/ing Film Festivals: History, Theory, Impact,” Leanne Dawson and Skadi Loist write, “General festivals increasingly include LGBTI*Q film, which is a positive sign in terms of inclusion and acceptance and creates room for a broader spectrum of queer film culture” (2). The article is also helpful in providing context as to how important queer film festivals in particular are in creating a more inclusive future. 

Figure 2. Anthony (Jonny Beauchamp) and Vincent (James Cusati-Moyer) enjoying each other over a picnic (“See you Soon,” Rubbertape, 2020)

The film “See You Soon” will make you fall in love. And I mean that in a very New York way with brownstone walk-up apartments and the city life pouring in the background. The two lovers, Vincent and Anthony, experience a range of emotions which leaves us to question: can they survive a long-distance relationship? The 16-minute film is shot with a wide-screen aspect ratio that predominantly features extreme close-up shots and medium close-up shots. These two types of shots create an intimacy level that is felt through the screen. There were moments in this film where I felt like I was watching a raw relationship blossom.

“See You Soon” does a great job of depicting how many online gay relationships go. I found myself relating to Vincent when he let Anthony know that he gets attached too fast. I was there to experience and see all the beauty, awkwardness, and real moments that the two had. This, of course, is contributed by the film’s soundtrack.

As all great soundtracks do, the music in this film helps to enhance and invoke an intended emotion. For the most part, the film is filled with ambient sounds and piano (See Figure 2). In the film, there is a moment where Vincent and Anthony play the piano in the street. Their hands, performing as though they are from the same body, become the center of the scene. Moments after, we hear a non-diegetic piano playing. The scene before, with the two playing piano perfectly, links the following scene with the piano song playing in the background (See Figure 3). I liked the soundtrack to this film for its mixture of ambient sounds and piano music. They played off one another interchangeably, which in a way made it seem like it was all one track. The music was simply euphoric.

Figure 3. Vincent (James Cusati-Moyer) and Anthony (Jonny Beauchamp) join together in the streets of New York City to play the piano (“See you Soon,” Rubbertape, 2020)

“See You Soon” is a modern love story. It is a perfect fit in this genre in that, like all modern love stories, it challenges traditional views in one way or another. This movie does this with gender roles. Based on stereotypes built by society, we could guess Anthony would be a bottom and Vincent is a top. However, who is saying that they cannot both be versatile? In their sex scene, it is revealed that they both are vers–a shortened form of “versatile,” meaning that neither of them have a preference for being in the dominant (“top”) or receptive (“bottom”) role. Anthony offers to be the top. This is powerful to see because it shows that our perception of people’s physical appearance and mannerisms do not always reflect these self-identified roles in bed.

Anthony’s character is more fem than Vincent. We get this idea about Anthony because of the way he talks, his facial structure, and even the clothes he wears. In the gay community, it is commonly perceived that the more ‘fem’ man in a gay relationship is the bottom and the more masculine man is the top. In “The Influence of Physical Body Traits and Masculinity on Anal Sex Roles in Gay and Bisexual Men,” David A. Moskowitz and Trevor A. Hart find that gay men’s sexual self-label (a.k.a. self-appointed sex roles) correlates to objective traits such as muscular build and penis size. In other words, gay sex roles are popularly determined by what others perceive you to be. Too fem, you’re a bottom; too masculine, you are a top. But, androgynous? Well, you’re vers! These stereotypes are harmful and outdated, just as the film seems to say.

“See You Soon” successfully challenges those in the queer community about these toxic standards that harm us into limiting the way we think and act. I’ll admit that I had my own assumptions based on Anthony and Vincent’s appearance, but I was happy to see that this film represents something different.

Figure 4. The two lovers lay together sharing personal thoughts and feelings during their first night together ever (“See you Soon,” Rubbertape, 2020)

Works Cited

Dawson, Leanne, and Skadi Loist. “Queer/Ing Film Festivals: History, Theory, Impact.” Studies in European Cinema, vol. 15, no. 1, 2018, pp. 1–24., doi:10.1080/17411548.2018.1442901.

Gocsik, Karen M., et al. Writing about Movies. W.W. Norton & Company, 2019. 

Moskowitz, David A., and Trevor A. Hart. “The Influence of Physical Body Traits and Masculinity on Anal Sex Roles in Gay and Bisexual Men.” Northwestern Scholars, Springer New York, 8 Feb. 2017, https://www.scholars.northwestern.edu/en/publications/the-influence-of-physical-body-traits-and-masculinity-on-anal-sex. 

N/A. “Tyler Rabinowitz.” Tribeca Film Institute, 2020, https://www.tfiny.org/filmmakers/detail/tyler_rabinowitz. 

Scahill, Andrew. “The Reelness: Queer Film Festivals and Youth Media Training.” Cinema Journal, vol. 57, no. 1. 2017, pp. 146–50, http://www.jstor.org/stable/44867866.

Rabinowitz, Tyler, director. See You Soon. OUTFEST, Rubbertape, 1 Dec. 2021,   https://www.outfestnow.com/videos/see-you-soon-1. Accessed 2 June 2020. 

“Browse.” Outfest Now, 2021, https://www.outfestnow.com/browse. 


2 thoughts on “A Very New York Modern Love Story: A Review of See you Soon

  1. What a pleasure to read! Your words come off the screen as though you’re a veteran film reviewer. Not only do you convey the emotional “heart” of the film, but you also managed to perfectly convey the virtual film festival experience, the “actual” film festival experience, why this particular one is important, what it means to you personally, and what it means for the world of film making. Your descriptions of the technical aspects of the film, such as the soundtrack and camera technique, add depth and vividness to your review. I think you addressed many things, including gender and sexuality topics in different cultures, contexts, in real life and in films, as well as representation. I can’t imagine anyone reading your review, and not wanting to watch this film. To know that it’s all packed into 16 minutes in astonishing, but now that I’ve watched other short films in “Outfest Now”, I have a newfound interest and appreciation for them. Thank you for this terrific review!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. That was beautiful to read! It sounds so romantic and the way you spoke about it made me want to watch it immediately. I liked that you brought up stereotypes in how gay couples are seen, especially when it comes to sexual acts. It seems raw, like you said, and so emotional that it really must seem as if you are right there with them. Representation is so important and I’m glad there’s s much of it. Good job!

    Liked by 2 people

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