Upstate Story is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, whether it was the choice to film in black and white or the fact that it is as far away from any blockbuster that anyone has ever seen. Some might think it mundane, though that is an integral part of the plot and thus boring as a result, but for those that love film – all kinds of film, Upstate Story is a movie that tells a tale of one man’s truth or at least a version of it. For director, writer, producer and star Shaun Rose, Upstate Story is a project as much a passion as any other and watching this, one can see exactly that.
If ever there were a movie that could be called slice-of-life, it would be this one as it probably mirrors more of what the average person goes through over the course of a week, though perhaps not quite as much of the drinking and wallowing in self-pity that Ellis Martin seems to do, though he does so with the smallest bit of humour. Rose plays the lead and provides narration throughout while other members of his family and friends fill out the cast, thereby keeping the costs down, but adding a little more authenticity to the story as it makes the performances a little more earnest. The music fits where needed and the use of colour – whether it be black and white, sepia tone or all the colours of the rainbow, illustrates the various parts of the tale Rose needs with a contrast that not only breaks it up, but highlights the plot and moments in Ellis’ life denoting both significance and a fondness for what takes place within them. If anything, aside from the script, Rose’s colour choices are integral to the telling of his tale and an easy ‘special effect’ considering the micro-budget of the film.
Altogether, Upstate Story may not be the easiest picture to watch as the character of Ellis might hit home with some viewers, but it is a good one and shows that movies do not always need a massive budget to tell a strong story.
4 out of 5