Uplift is one of those movies that will leave an indelible impression on its viewers. Its name is a morbid pun, as the movie’s story is not at all uplifting, though the protagonist is uplifted in the most gruesome way. I think it is safe to say that Uplift is one of the saddest movies I have seen this year, but it is also one of my favorites, displaying a morbid sense of humor from filmmaking duo Rebecca Kahn and Abhishek Prasad.
Uplift takes the whimsy and sadness of Up (2009) and increases both of these elements ten-fold to produce an incredibly emotional film about loss and the effect that unattended grief has on one’s behavior. It accomplishes its darkly melancholy atmosphere by having a very quiet script, letting the grief speak for itself, and by coloring the protagonist’s world in tones of grey. This greyness is interrupted by a faint glimmer of hope in the form of brightly colored balloons, but of course, hope can be a cruel thing sometimes.
Uplift stars James Acton as Eli, a father who recently lost his young son, leaving him alone in the world. Living in a stupor fueled by depression, Eli is seemingly reinvigorated after watching a news story on a balloon-chair man. Inspired to make a flight of his own, Eli begins filling a ridiculous amount of balloons, drawing the attention of his young neighbor, though her mother makes sure they steer clear of him. Alone, ostracized, and hopeless, Eli decides to set his balloons free into the sky, but not without himself in tow.
Kahn, Prasad, and James Acton did an excellent job at building a world of grief so believable that I was near tears, with James Acton’s performance particularly pulling at my heartstrings. One of the most horrific human experiences might just be losing a child, which is the true horror of this movie. Though it feels like a slow build in getting to the final emotional release, it is worth it – unless you need to worry about possibly being triggered, that is. Uplift delicately and earnestly details depression, uncomfortably up close and personal with the camera at times, until its widest angle reveals a most horrific, but darkly humorous, final frame.
One of my favorite dark comedies is World’s Greatest Dad (2009) — has a somewhat similar premise and stars Robin Williams — I suspect anyone who also enjoyed that movie would also appreciate Uplift. I would be interested in a feature-length of this movie, preferably starring a comedian with dramatic chops like John C. Riley, Jim Carrey, or Adam Sandler, or if Phillip Seymour Hoffman were still alive. Yes, this story is that good that it seems worthy of such a production.
The ending is shocking both visually and narratively. Though it seems like it escalated quickly, in retrospect, it was the only conclusion for this most sorrowful character. I am haunted by Uplift‘s imagery, which juxtaposes the universally joyful symbol of balloons with a grotesque and frank depiction of death. Watch this beautiful downer by clicking here.
MOVI RATING — 8.5 out of 10
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|Runtime:||1 hr 53Mins.|
Abhishek Prasad & Rebecca Kahn
Abhishek Prasad & Rebecca Kahn