Up There Image

Up There

By Alan Ng | October 10, 2019

I like to watch films cold with very little research about the story or filmmakers themselves. It didn’t surprise me that the three leads were heavily involved in writing, directing, and acting in Up There. The story is heartfelt, and the performance of each character is loaded with insight, which reveals itself as the story plays out.

You can tell that a great deal of emotional labor was placed into Jack, Emma, and Champ. Not only that, but each character is ultimately forced to confront the past they’ve been avoiding. This collision plays out with a great deal of thought and compassion. I can’t help but wonder about the story behind the story. I love how it all plays addressing themes of trust, tragedy, and personal failure. The script refuses to hold back. It boldly takes risks, where other films hold back.

“A hefty portion of character development and revelation comes from its performances…”

Up There succeeds where many dramas like this fail. It balances action beautifully with dialogue. Especially as dialogue-heavy movies tend to vomit exposition at a sickening rate. A hefty portion of character development and revelation comes from its performances. Even Emma, who talks a lot, and I mean a lot, her dialogue informs her character as opposed to giving away her story and struggle. Zoe Kanters as Emma clearly carries the emotional weight of the film.

There is one big flaw in Up There. It’s predictable. It’s not hard to see what’s coming before it happens, particularly with Jack’s opportunistic exploitation of Emma. You know what is ultimately going to happen between the two. Finding clever ways to reveal character secrets and hide hidden motivations would have launched Up There from good to great. It’s important to keep audiences guessing as unpredictability then forces us to stay emotionally engaged with the story from start to finish.

If I were to guess, filmmakers Blaustein, Weingarten, and Kanters’ Up There was a passion project for the trio, who had a deeply personal story to tell. They succeeded in conveying that passion and producing a professional-looking film with great performances.

Up There (2019)

Directed: Michael Blaustein, Daniel Weingarten

Written: Zoe Kanters, Michael Blaustein, Daniel Weingarten

Starring: Zoe Kanters, Michael Blaustein, Daniel Weingarten, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Up There Image

"…a professional-looking film with great performances."

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