Upright throws you right into the action. Within seconds of hitting play, viewers are on a desolate desert highway, the stress building as an anxious driver swerves in and out of his lane, nervously fiddling with his phone and the radio dial, then ingesting a mysterious drug. Just when this harrowing situation begins to feel like a hectic normal, the driver loses control, hits another car, and is in a ditch.
It’s just one of many non-stop adventures in this uniquely Australian road trip. In coming episodes, watchers will visit small bush towns, run through Western Australia’s Pink Lake, nearly hit a kangaroo, and sleep under the stars at the edge of the continent.
UPRIGHT Series Tells Story In Part with Flashbacks
With a linear story that builds through flashbacks and new encounters, the two main characters are fleshed out — one, an aging has-been rockstar with some dubious choices in his past. The other, a supposedly 16-year-old girl who may or may not be running away to live with her mother. With the benefit of many episodes, they are given opportunity to grow, regress, and grow again, adding depth that a 90-minute film could not provide. The situations range from unlikely to downright wacky, solidly walking a line between laugh-out-loud humor and real pathos.
In addition to a bingeable storyline, there is also the landscape. Only in Australia could the threat of running out of gas, cell service, or water be as believable and worrisome, with the hundreds of miles that separate major towns (not to mention the searing heat and dangerous animals in between). In the open spaces the characters have room to expand, while the isolation brings them closer together.
Though this writer was new to the talents of actor Tim Minchin, audiences may recognize him from films including ROBIN HOOD, Broadway productions like MATILDA and JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, or perhaps directly from his popular social media.
For viewers looking for some meaning with their escapism, UPRIGHT will likely be an intelligent, hopeful delight.
Available to stream via Sundance Now
Co-written, executive produced, composed by and starring Tim Minchin
Co-starring Milly Alcock
Series Directed by
Images courtesy of Sundance Now.
About the Author: Ryan Davis
Ryan Davis (@indieartsvoice) is a film publicist and communications professional with over ten years experience in the film industry and arts marketing. She is co-founder and Principal at Smarthouse Creative. Named by Media Inc. as one of Washington State's most influential women in film, TV, and media, Ryan has worked with outlets ranging from CNN and The New York Times, to community newspapers and local radio. She has worked in almost every aspect of the film business--from production and festivals to distribution, exhibition and sales.
Ryan worked for Arab Film Distribution/Typecast Films where she was part of the production and release of the Academy Award-nominated Iraq in Fragments. She has worked for a variety of nonprofit arts groups and organizations, including heading the marketing departments for Northwest Film Forum and Northwest Folklife, and was the assistant director of Couch Fest Films from 2010-2014. Ryan was on the jury for the International Documentary Challenge for 2012-3, and a juror for the 2015 Seattle Shorts Festival. Ryan currently sits on the board of The Grand Cinema in Tacoma, WA.