Starring: Shaun Rose, Kendra Mosher, Bruce Rose Sr.
Director: Shaun Rose
Running Time: 61 mins
Upstate Story is an American film about the life of Ellis, a man working in a dead-end job, as he struggles through the week, desperately anticipating the weekends.
Proving in powerful fashion that, with a great idea and strong filmmaking talent, anything is possible, Upstate Story proves a surprising and engrossing piece of independent cinema from start to finish. It’s a relatable, down-to-earth story that features impressive emotional depth, bolstered by unique narrative and visual techniques throughout.
Upstate Story is as small as independent cinema gets, made on a minute budget compared to the titans of Hollywood, and featuring a very small cast, almost entirely centred around the performance of writer-director Shaun Rose. However, if ever there were proof that you don’t need thousands of A-listers and billions of dollars to make a great movie, it’s Upstate Story.
Using its small budget to ingenious effect throughout, the film paints a powerfully intimate portrayal of life in modern society, uniquely blending a dour, pessimistic view of the world with striking bittersweet emotional depth.
The story of a man struggling through the working week just to get to the weekend, it’s a deeply relatable tale of a feeling that everybody knows well, but is often reluctant to voice out loud. However, while Upstate Story provides a striking and often heavy-going look at a soul-destroying working routine, you’ll see that its heart is absolutely in the right place.
Starting off in brilliantly captivating fashion as our leading man, Ellis, explains how the end of his weekend is the most depressing moment of each week, the film cleverly unfolds with multifaceted and surprising depth throughout, ultimately looking at more than just the struggles of getting through the week, but a deeper, more heartening look at the meaning of life.
It may sound like an enormous topic to tackle in just 61 short minutes and on a tiny budget, but Upstate Story does an incredible job at just that. Starting from that relatable standpoint of working just to get to the weekend, the film opens up brilliantly in its latter stages, with a surprising and brilliantly effective visual twist that subverts all expectations.
There are admittedly times when Upstate Story can drag in its middle portion, when all seems without hope, however it comes good in the end with that striking and resonant finale.
And with a screenplay that delivers captivating narration, filled with both dark humour and powerfully introspective emotion, the film proves an enthralling watch right the way through, overcoming any prejudices you may have going in with regards to its budget, and delivering a genuinely impressive, memorable and uniquely powerful drama, which is why I’m giving Upstate Story a 7.6 overall.