By: Trevor Chartrand
The poor, misguided filmmakers behind Up on the Glass use this film as an opportunity to show off amateur movie-making skills at their most mundane. The entire execution of this motion picture – from the script, to the cast, to the camerawork, and beyond – is a masterpiece of dull.
When two old college buddies reunite for a cottage getaway after five years, tensions between Jack (Chase Fein) and Andy (Hunter Cross) quickly bubble to the surface. Jack, a failed construction worker who lives out of his truck, is envious of Andy’s life and success. Most of all, he’s jealous of Andy’s marriage to Liz (Chelsea Kurtz), a shared crush the two had in college. When Jack catches Andy cheating on her, he accidentally kills Andy in the ensuing brawl. After covering up the murder, Jack tries to take over Andy’s life by wearing his clothes, living in his house, and courting the girl that got away: Liz. There’s something very Norman Bates-y about the whole thing.
The film’s script is drab and meandering, lacking tension or drive in almost every scene. For the first half of the film, it’s unclear what the movie is even supposed to be about – with so much lack of direction and focus. While tensions between Andy and Jack may need to be established, as well as their relationship with Liz, it shouldn’t take forty-five minutes to do so.
For a dialogue-heavy film, the spoken word in this movie sounds so very forced and unnatural. The flow of conversation is strange and disjointed, and the characters are all bafflingly inconsistent. Within minutes, characters will go from joking around, to having sudden angry outbursts, only to end up friendly again moments later.
The performances aren’t strong either, which doesn’t help sell the already-weak dialogue. Even the simple act of a character holding a rock in their hand feels unnatural as the actor tries to find their hand’s ‘mark’ relative to the camera – what should be an incredibly simple shot somehow has an alienating effect, as if the rock has eyes and it’s staring down the lens of the camera.
There’s also a third character at the reunion, another college buddy named Moze (Steve Holm). He’s supposed to be the Randal to their Dante; the funny, obnoxious guy who buries his emotions behind witty banter and comedic antics. He certainly looks the part; he’s raunchy and rude, a classic smart ass. However, nothing that’s written for him comes across half as clever or funny as it’s intended to. Instead of getting a lot of laughs and attention, he’s more likely to get uncomfortable, confused glances after each of his bizarre ‘quips.’ Failing to be comic relief, and given that he leaves the film early in the second act, there’s no clear motivation as to why this character even needs to exist in this story.
Furthermore, the script is also laden with one coincidental run-in after another. Understanding this is a small town in cottage country, it’s still strange that there only appears to be seven people that exist in this entire world. Three trips to the grocery store, each on a different day, and it’s the same two characters working the cash each time. And then later when we visit a ‘restaurant’ (clearly the dining room table inside someone’s house, without any set decoration to suggest otherwise), we find one of the grocery store cashiers waiting tables there as well. If it were intentional it might be eerie, but the repetition of these seven actors is most likely just an attempt to avoid having to hire an eighth.
The film almost bounces back after Jack kills Andy, when we finally arrive at a scene where something’s actually at stake. For those precious few moments, even with the weak performances, there was finally something to get invested in as Jack tries to hide the body. Once he has done so though, his courtship of Liz ushers in more of the same: stilted dialogue and characters we can’t feel anything for.
Overall, Up on the Glass is mundane and tedious, without much to offer its audience. It’s a slow burn that takes too long to get going. By the time we finally arrive at a plot, it’s too little and far too late. A solid effort, but unfortunately a film that falls apart early in its runtime.
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Trevor Chartrand: @OhHaiTrebor