"The Upside" Review

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Based on a true story, The Upside is a film that is both unexpectedly hilarious yet humbling. Bryan Cranston plays a wealthy quadriplegic named Phillip and Kevin Hart is his caretaker, Dell. Both Cranston and Hart are an unstoppable duo on screen. The duo are no strangers to comedy which makes their interactions more genuine and comical. Their endearing relationship gives you hope for humanity. Alongside the serious moments, the comedy is well written and delivered with perfection. 

The acting is great; the relationship between Dell and Phillip in the film seems genuine and playful. The actors are able to portray the writing in a beautiful way that exposes a different aspect of the relationship Dell and Phillip have (they are still friends to this day). In a way, both of the characters are outcasts of society; Phillip as a quadriplegic doesn’t often receive the respect he should, even in small interactions; Dell has a similar experience being formerly incarcerated and now looking for a job. Their relationship builds off of their differences and in result of their friendship growing, they come to find that they are very similar. This development alone is one of my favorite aspects of the film and it is the first reason to go and see The Upside. Cranston and Hart lead the film with great acting but one cannot overlook the talented performances of Nicole Kidman and Golshifteh Farahani as supporting actors as well. 

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The second reason to go see the film is for the writing, the comedy is innovative and edgy, especially with the quips that Dell and Phillip throw at each other. I found that some of the humor is so awkward and cringe-worthy, you can’t help but laugh. The comedy delivered through the acting carries the film as Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart truly have a positive chemistry which makes it even better. Together the duo forces the audience to experience every emotion they’re experiencing, and they don’t hold anything back. Both of the characters go through significant change with each other and it is a beautiful process to see.

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Alongside the writing and acting, the camera work is lovely and even whimsical. The director of photography, Stuart Dryburgh captures the film in a significant way; at times the cinematography reminded me of a painting, especially when the visuals are paired with dramatic moments. The director uses a technique with the cinematographer to expose bits and pieces of Phillip’s past through imaginative visual representations in a way that’s well executed. Joined with the drama and comedy within the film, the cinematography allows space when it is needed, the breathtaking shots are peaceful and meditative; it is almost as if the audience is supposed to feel the peace the characters do. These small decisions of the director and cinematographer makes the film stunning in a unique way.

Overall The Upside is great, it forces the audience to think differently about how to treat the outcasts of society and how much we take for granted on a day to day basis. If you wish to see a film that is action packed with explosions, this is not the film for you. However, if you wish to view the world differently and open your mind to new perspectives, this is a wonderful film to watch. I highly recommend this film if you are familiar with the actors, they certainly hold true to their acting reputations. See The Upside in theaters while you still can, the lovely visuals are made to be seen on a big screen.

Grade: A

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Julia Moroles

Julia Moroles graduated from Augsburg College (MN) with a Bachelors degree (BA) in Film Production and Studio Art Production with a minor in Religion. After graduating, Julia lived in El Salvador where she taught film editing, art, and photography in Spanish. While she resided in El Salvador, she studied Monseñor Romero and the liberation theology movement of Central America.

When Julia returned from El Salvador, she completed an internship at a Think Tank in St. Paul Minnesota, called Minnesota 2020. During her 9-month multimedia specialist position, she created two short documentaries focusing on different public policy issues. Her short documentary Colossal Costs closely analyzed higher education loan debt, and was screened in festivals from coast to coast. The second film was a documentary about the urban agriculture movement in Minnesota.

In addition to her studies, Julia has been a photo activist for the Black Lives Matter movement, urban agriculture nonprofit organizations in Minnesota, as well as numerous human rights campaigns (internationally).

In August 2016 Julia began a Masters program (MFA) in Film and Electronic Media for the School of Communication at American University. During her attendance at AU she created various documentaries that focused on social justice issues, female empowerment, and community engagement. Her documentary about American University's Eagle Endowment was honored at the house of the President of American University in 2017. On two occasions, Julia served as sound mixer while filming a documentary for the talented filmmaker Larry Kirkman. Larry is working with the Center of Environmental filmmaking to research the necessity of Science in politics. Julia worked on a 16 person team (8 crews) that covered the March for Science in 2017 and 2018; she also assisted in filming congressional house parties with Larry Kirkman while working on the documentary. Finally, she was a part of a team that filmed interviews with the Defenders of Wildlife in preparation for the 2018 March for Science. Julia's team covered the media tent for both years of the March for Science and conducted interviews with the scientists and speakers for the rally.

From June 2017-December 2017 Julia completed a Fellowship for the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute. She worked alongside Mahtab Kowsari to create educational videos that taught students at a graduate level for the Religious Freedom Center. She worked in the fast paced media environment creating the educational videos, promotional videos, filming and producing the educational lectures and she even created an educational social media campaign.

On top of completing a fellowship and assisting with the Center of Environmental Filmmaking, Julia acted as a Teaching Assistant to classes such as Editing, Web Development, Digital Image Editing, and Direction and Video Production.

Julia is currently creating a documentary focusing on the urban agriculture movement across the United States. She has interviewed people on the East and West Coast and hopes to influence more people to be a part of the movement.