As the film opens, we meet Robert (Ari Kanamori), a young artist strapped for cash who is renting out a room in his apartment. He meets Jenny (Jena Hunt), who is looking for a room, and the two have an immediate connection. Problem is, Jenny has a steady boyfriend, Glen (Sean McGee).
Cut to a year later, and Robert is leaving San Francisco to return home to Rochester, New York. Turns out he was never able to make financial ends meet, despite his job working for local author Leo (Jack McGee), and retreat is his best option. At the going away party, he and Jenny share a cigarette, and then a kiss.
With his departure on a few days away, Robert’s life is thrown for a loop as he tries to figure out whether to finally tell Jenny how he feels, even as her relationship with Glen continues. While heading over to Leo’s one day, he meets Sara (Jessiqa Pace), who has a package she needs to deliver to Leo in person. Sara is a nutty one, and establishes her unpredictable nature with some breaking-and-entering and retail larceny early on. As circumstances prevent Robert and Jenny from getting together, and time begins to run out, Robert and Sara wind up spending more time together than Robert initially would like, and a friendship is born.
Written and directed by Richard J. Bosner, and dedicated to “the girl that slept down the hall …in the city that stole my heart,” Falling Uphill is a pleasant drama about the complexities of young life. Things may not have worked out quite the way Robert envisioned them, Jenny is having her own concerns with her attraction to Robert despite her relationship with Glen being so good and even Sara has a reveal that shows how life has dealt her a complicated hand. Everyone has their own dilemma to address, and all the while life keeps moving forward.
Which brings up that feeling of urgency to the film, and the emotional doomsday scenarios that seem to swirl less in old age and more in high school. Maybe Robert has found love with Jenny, maybe she is the one he’ll always pine for in life; the film properly captures and conveys that romantic, wounded angst that so many of us carry into even our twenties (and maybe even longer).
Some would say, “he should just talk to Jenny and put it all out in the open, as soon as possible,” and I’d be inclined to agree, but how many times have you seen that actually happen in real life? Most of my friends in similar moments in their lives rocked back and forth about it for (seemingly) ages. Plus, even though Robert is leaning that way, Glen is monopolizing Jenny’s time throughout the day and Sara is monopolizing Robert’s. Robert and Jenny can’t get to that moment anyway.
And while the Sara character, at least in description here and in broad strokes, could seem like that “crazy, free spirit” that pops up in indie films to offer new perspective and become a possible third point to an angst love triangle, she is thankfully more than that. While it may be Robert’s story, for the most part, Sara is not a character that becomes drawn into his orbit so much as the other way around. Her story is strong enough on its own.
Overall, Falling Uphill is, to me, a pleasant drama. I use the word “pleasant,” because everything about it just feels nice and comfortable. Maybe it is like time-traveling to a time in my youth when my friends and I were just as lost in life and love, seeing the pain but then realizing, hey, it can work out fine. In that way, the experience becomes pleasant, because you know that, for as painful as it may seem, it doesn’t last.
The film also reminded me of the type of character-driven indie dramas or romantic comedies we’d see in the ’90s, so there is a twinge of nostalgia getting hit there too. It lacks the more harried nature of many indie dramas of today, and it also helps that the film looks nice, San Francisco is beautiful and the actors aren’t too hard on the eyes either. There’s not much to object to about the film. Maybe you could call certain aspects cliché, but in this execution, I’m more likely to call them “comfortable and familiar.”
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