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Beyond Rom-Com Tropes: “Upgraded” Crafts a Tale of Love and Aspiration

“Upgraded” emerges with a promising premise but unfolds with a distinctive narrative focus, which tilts more towards professional aspirations than the anticipated romantic entanglements.
February 22, 2024
1:48 pm

Directed by Carlson Young, the film stars Camila Mendes as Anna, a fashionably broke New Yorker juggling her dreams in the art world while wrestling with the challenges of a demanding job.


Anna, an aspiring art intern with a master’s degree in art history, unexpectedly finds herself on a work trip to London, where by luck she gets her plane ticket upgraded to first class. Here, she crosses paths with William (Archie Renaux), a charming stranger, setting the stage for a modern-day Cinderella tale.


As Anna struggles with professional hurdles at the prestigious art auction house under the stern gaze of her boss Claire Dupree (Marisa Tomei), her relationship with William becomes a secondary plot point, overshadowed by the overarching theme of self-discovery and career ambitions.


Despite marketing teasing a classic rom-com, “Upgraded” diverts from conventional expectations, placing more emphasis on Anna’s journey of empowerment and navigating the art world.



The film engages audiences with a delightful meet-cute and a promising setup, yet struggles to sustain the romantic arc, leaving it feeling rushed and underdeveloped.


While the film’s central romance between Anna and William is enjoyable, it takes a backseat to Anna’s professional tribulations. This thematic imbalance compromises the pacing, causing the romantic elements to conclude abruptly, leaving viewers yearning for more depth and emotional engagement.


Camila Mendes delivers a commendable performance, portraying Anna’s resilience and determination in the face of workplace challenges. The chemistry between Mendes and Renaux adds a charming dynamic to their interactions, providing some delightful moments in an otherwise narrative-heavy film. Renaux’s comedic timing stands out, contributing to the film’s lighter moments.


“Upgraded” also introduces a modern-day twist to the Cinderella tale, with Anna grappling not with a wicked stepmother but with colleagues Suzette (Rachel Matthews) and Renée (Fola Evans-Akingbola). This clever reinterpretation adds a layer of humor and relatability to Anna’s professional struggles.



In terms of filmmaking choices, the movie benefits from solid performances, particularly Marisa Tomei’s portrayal of the demanding Claire Dupree. The film’s aesthetic appeal, including its portrayal of the art world and couture, enhances the overall viewing experience. However, cinematography tends to prioritize Anna’s workplace over her romantic encounters, reinforcing the film’s predominant focus.


“Upgraded” ultimately invites viewers to appreciate it as a coming-of-age tale with a strong emphasis on professional growth and self-realization. Its success lies in Mendes’ portrayal of a woman navigating the complexities of a demanding job, albeit at the expense of a more robust romantic narrative.


Comparatively, the romantic elements feel secondary to the film’s overarching themes, providing a unique take on the rom-com genre.


“Upgraded” is a commendable addition to the romantic comedy genre, showcasing strong performances and a fresh perspective on the interplay between love and ambition.


While it may deviate from traditional rom-com expectations, the film succeeds in portraying the complexities of modern relationships and the pursuit of individual aspirations. Whether it leaves a lasting impact depends on the viewer’s appreciation for a narrative that favors professional triumphs over romantic escapades.



Release Date: February 9, 2024

Runtime: 1 hour, 45 minutes, and 37 seconds

Streaming Service: Amazon Prime Video

Director: Carlson Young

Cast: Camila Mendes, Archie Renaux, Marisa Tomei, Fola Evans-Akingbola and Lena Olin

TNR Scorecard:


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