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'Straight Up' Stands Tall

Janeen Mathisen

Posted on July 11, 2020 19:08

3 users

This is a quiet, heartwarming movie with fantastic writing and performances that you won't want to miss.

Netflix's Straight Up tells the story of Todd, a young man with OCD who might or might not be gay, as he tries to befriend a struggling female actor named Rory while grappling with his identity. It's a wonderfully quirky story about romantic love, platonic love, where the line blurs between the two, and how these well-realized characters react when they are caught in between.  

The film's dream-like cinematography contrasts with Todd and Rory, who both yearn for friendship, companionship, acknowledgment and an end to loneliness. They are well-defined characters in a surreal world: these two aspects complement each other, and so the dream is complete. The delicate unreality of a vibrant, color-coordinated, often-times symmetrical world is married with camera movements to symbolize things Rory and Todd could not know within their own story. Movements calling out their division, accentuating their differences, providing obstacles to their relationship by merely existing — and so the dream is the movie and the movie is the dream.

Despite the lack of fast cuts, which director Edgar Wright is known for, Straight Up inexplicably recalls the characters in Wright's Scott Pilgrim vs. the World as endearingly witty characters who must strive to connect with others and better themselves. From the moment Rory is introduced at an audition, her personality is conveyed with ease despite the fact she rehearsed lines not her own. She is immediately likable, and when coupled with Todd their world views and personalities interlink like fated puzzle pieces. Todd — OCD, uptight, looking for companionship — takes everything literally while Rory is an understanding, calming and supportive opposite. They both have anxieties and secrets, supporting each other through uncomfortable times, being more than fair-weather friends.

The film excellently captures the feeling of instant connection. Rory and Todd talk away the hours, fast-paced line delivery of well-written dialogue blossoming into character background and development for both of them, scenery hypnotically transitioning to mirror their moods and closeness.

Similar to I Lost My Body, the narrative and character development on display here is like drifting through a dazzling dream. As well as happier themes of connection, love, and reliance, it also expertly handles themes of questioning one's sexuality, one's place in the world, and the struggles of navigating through a new relationship. Like shimmering stones underneath a current, these themes are realistically written to balance the more surreal qualities, and linking them to relatable characters brings out the sharp, emotional edges.  

The ending is subtle, wonderfully done, and asks viewers to draw their own conclusion. It's a joyous little gem with staying power. By the time the movie ends, you’ll wish you could have stayed inside the dream a little longer.

Janeen Mathisen

Posted on July 11, 2020 19:08

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