If the Oscar-winning Once opened the door for such a thing as an indie musical, I Used to Be Darker tiptoes quietly inside the subgenre. And maybe “indie musical” is a misleading description of this admirable film, but it’s better than “critically acclaimed Sundance hit”—although that one’s accurate too. We begin with a teenage girl from Northern Ireland, Taryn (Deragh Campbell), who needs a place to crash after her wild American summer hits a serious snag. She rings up her Aunt Kim (Kim Taylor) in Baltimore, but the timing is bad: Kim is about to leave her husband Bill (Ned Oldham). Their daughter Abby (Hannah Gross), an aspiring actress, is happy to see Taryn but nursing some major resentment against her mother.
Kim’s a singer, still gigging and going on the road; Bill has sacrificed his own musical career because he has to pay the mortgage. A handful of musical numbers emerge from the storyline, which director and co-writer Matthew Porterfield (Putty Hill) treats with the unbroken-take method of shooting.