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THE SPECTATOR

Upgraded: A Not So Romantic Rom Com

The cover of “Upgraded”

On February 19th, Amazon Prime released a new film called “Upgraded.” Starring “Riverdale” alumni Camilla Mendes, “Upgraded” has been regarded as the newest installment of the “Rom Com Renaissance” including movies like “Crazy Rich Asians”, “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before”, and “Anyone But You”. In the film, Ana Santos, played by Mendes, is a struggling twenty-something-year-old interning at an art dealing company called Erwin. Ana longs for the day when she can open her own gallery, but for the time being, has done nothing but pass out pamphlets at the door. When she corrects a listing mistake at an art auction, she gains the attention and respect of her boss Claire DuPont. Claire soon after, invites Ana to be one of her assistants accompanying her on her trip to London to sell an extremely rare collection of art from an anonymous seller. When Claire’s snobby, mean girl-esque main assistants put Ana in the economy section, a kind receptionist upgrades Ana to first-class where she meets charming British advertiser William (Archie Renaux). Feeling the thrill of being in first-class and thinking she’d never see William again, Ana gets carried away and lies to him about her job, letting him believe that she was the director of Erwin. As she and William become more involved, the lie becomes much more difficult to keep up.

The film has lots of natural charm, with Mendes coming alive in scenes with Renaux; the pair having very strong chemistry. Ana and William have constant banter and are very playful and entertaining to watch. The movie also has strong comedic acting here and there with the pairing of Aimee Carrero and Andrew Schulz who play Ana’s sister, Viv, and her fiancé Ronnie. Ronnie is especially hilarious with his unhidden annoyance of Ana and strong New Yorker accent. He says the rudest things, playing them off as jokes while Viv lightly scolds him. The two are only in small portions of the movie, which is disappointing because they are the strongest comedic factor of it. Aside from the times when it feels like the film is trying way too hard (the grown adult mean girls, Ana’s “quirky” Irish friend, and Claire’s questionable accent), the movie is best when the comedy is subtle. Such as Ronnie pretending to go in for a hug with Ana but instead grabbing her luggage and bringing it to the door, Ana sneakily stealing fancy salt & pepper shakers off the plane, and a stressed auctioneer being offered coffee from his assistant and immediately pouring alcohol into the mug. With this film, less is more.

As mentioned before, the two main characters of the film, Ana and William are very fun together. Sadly, the fun is all they have. What is supposed to be the core of the film, with it being marketed as a rom com, lacks the true romance. The couple has no emotional connection, no deep conversations, no sincere moments. Instead, they laugh together, flirt, and make out. Ana builds a more meaningful relationship with William’s mother, Catherine, than she does with the man whom she’s supposedly in love with. While watching the movie, you can’t help but wait and hope for the moment where their relationship feels real, but sadly that point never comes. There’s nothing wrong with a film about a girl on a work trip who has a fling with an attractive British lad, the problem lies in the movie acting as if their relationship was more than that. At times it seems like the movie actually goes out of its way to cut out parts concerning this couple we as viewers are expected to care about. Many of their scenes out together are shown in a montage format which leaves much to be desired. They’re walking through the city together, shopping, having conversations, and the audience isn’t let in on any of it because a random song is playing over the scene. Considering that the final act of the movie after Ana’s lies are exposed is so emotion heavy and reliant on a relationship that was left on the back burner for the majority of the movie, it’s really hard to care and find sincerity in it. They fight, William cuts things off, Ana is “heartbroken”, they get back together in the end, and none of it even matters. The movie is far more centered on Ana’s rise in the art dealing industry, which is a very different film than what they try to portray in the end. The movie isn’t a rom com, It’s a mediocre comedy with a very, very minute romance that pushes itself into full rom com territory in the last 30 minutes for no reason at all. It’s okay for the movie to be about a woman getting her dream job, there was no need to change its entire direction at the very end.

On the topic of direction, “Upgraded” is directed by actress and filmmaker Carlson Young, who definitely misses the mark. For a film so focused on art and destination, none of that is shown fully. Multiple shots include characters standing right in front of the painting they’re talking about, blocking the audience’s view; not setting the camera on the pieces being shown for long enough; showing very limited portions of the interesting architecture of all the “incredible” houses and buildings in London. The film settles for awkward, shaky, close ups at times instead of wide shots including the scenery, which really makes it hard for viewers to be immersed into the story. While the majority of the shots and scenery in the movie is lackluster, when the scenes take place outdoors, the movie peaks visually. Out in the park, the streets of the city, the alleyway of a club, these are all moments where the movie really shines.

The film is pretty enjoyable for the majority of its runtime but makes the mistake of shooting itself in the foot during the final act. Throughout the entirety of the film, Ana has been keeping up her lie until she’s photographed in a celebrity magazine and labeled as the director of Erwin. She is found out by her boss, gets fired, and is put out on the street. But within about five minutes, all of this is resolved. She is immediately forgiven by William’s mother, Catherine, and Catherine helps her get back onto the deal, this time as the auction manager. The movie tries to make this seem like a moment of satisfaction, with Ana now becoming in charge of her boss, but because Claire was never really that horrible to begin with, and Ana faced no repercussions for literally impersonating her, it leaves a bad taste in viewers’ mouths. When Ana tells Claire, “You’ve had to fight for your spot here, and so have I,” it simply is not true. The film quickly destroys Ana, a once charming character, and expects the viewers to still root for her after all she’s done. The auction goes well, Ana gets officially rehired at Erwin, she opens her own art gallery 6 months later (which is completely unrealistic, but movie logic), and William forgives her after all her lies. She gets her happy ending, but by the end of the film she isn’t a character deserving of it.

“Upgraded” is a decent film for the most part. It’s light and fun despite its quirks here and there. While the directing is subpar, the script is corny at times, and the lack of moral lessons learned, it is an enjoyable time, which I suppose is all it’s meant to be. I give “Upgraded” a solid three out of five stars. There were definitely ways the film itself could’ve been “upgraded”, but overall, it’s a pretty good time.

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About the Contributor
Tyann Eades, Entertainment Editor
Hi everybody! My name is Tyann and I'm the entertainment editor this year. I've been a part of the Spectator staff for two years now, joining to fuel my passion for journalistic writing. I enjoy writing articles about TV shows and movies, things going on in our school, social issues, and opinion pieces. When I'm not typing away on my laptop, I can usually be found singing somewhere. I've been doing choir since elementary school and am a part of BHS’ show choir ensemble Encore! I also love listening to music (practically any genre) and reading a good book. This year, I'm most excited to see what new stories the world will present us with. Journalism is a form of writing that really goes with the times and relies on what's going on in the world around us, so I'm curious as to what will occur that our publication can write about. My go-to Donut Cutter order is the classic glaze, but I'm looking to try something new this year at least once.

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