The young man’s regret primarily takes the shape of his ex-girlfriend, Carly (Lizzy Gesensway), whom he visits while drunk and tries to get her back. Wyatt’s entitled white male privilege is shaken to the foundations when she throws him out, and he’s arrested for drunk driving in his friend’s borrowed car. We leave him with many lessons still to absorb about adulthood. It’s an interesting exploration of the roots of anger that so many men carry through their lives. Orth delivers the character in a pitch-perfect performance. One can easily imagine Wyatt 20 years on with two ex-wives, a rap sheet for domestic violence, and several restraining orders.
The themes of Undergrads explore the differences in how the men and women see a single moment through the stories of these friends and couples. The men see college as a goal achieved at the end of an enterprise and are looking toward settling down into a relationship and domestic life. But, on the other hand, the women see this transition time as a launch pad for the different possibilities of life ahead, the start of new adventures.
“Zuckerman and Orth understand the importance of strong characters and relationships…”
Orth co-wrote the film with Zuckerman, a long-time friend from high school. They financed the film with help from crowdfunding and shot it at well-known popular haunts around the Twin Cities area. The deepest accomplishment in the film is that it not only entertains but also shows a glimpse of what life is like in 2022 for people launching into an uncertain adulthood. It’s enlightening for anyone who’s not in that place in their lives and reassuring for those who are.
The general vibe is patterned on other character-driven movies that spotlight situations rather than plot. Dazed and Confused comes immediately to mind, as that is my favorite. It was an early example of what came to be known as the “hangout” film. The genre is a popular choice for indie filmmakers, such as Kit Zauhar’s similarly themed Actual People. Zuckerman and Orth understand the importance of strong characters and relationships and deliver them both powerfully here. Despite the limited budget, Undergrads is moving, authentic, easy to watch, and flows with solid cinematography and excellent performances.
Undergrads is available now on Amazon Prime Video.
"…the general vibe is patterned on other character-driven movies that spotlight situations rather than plot."