By Joel Fisher.
Kathryn Upside Down is a feel-good comedy directed, written by and starring Allie Loukas as Kathryn, a woman in her twenties whose life is going nowhere and she still acts like she did when she was a teenager. Then one day when a stranger visits Kathryn’s life is well and truly turned upside down.
Realising that this stranger, Bob (Christopher M. Walsh) is in fact her biological father, Kathryn has a lot of questions and after a conversation with her mother, Elizabeth (Kim DeJesus) she reluctantly agrees to try and get to know Bob better – and what better way than on a road trip? It says a lot about a writer/director to star in their own film as well but what sets Loukas’ directorial debut apart from other actors is that Kathryn is a pretty unlikeable character right from the start.
Kathryn smokes, drinks too much and has the sarcastic wit of a teenage girl so unless the audience already knows somebody like her then they may find her character a little grating. It’s good to know then that Loukas knows exactly what she’s doing with Kathryn as her performance has enough funny one-liners and a somewhat relatable attitude that the audience does start to wonder if there’s a little more to her character than her first bad impression.
The movie is predictable but I think that’s part of the charm of the film. Kathryn surely cannot stay the way that she is throughout the movie so to see her progression and her character arc is pleasing for the audience as they really want a happy ending for this young woman who has such a hard surface. Walsh is also great to watch and the uneasy chemistry between him and Loukas is endearing, particularly when they start to get to know each other better.
His character of the kind-hearted man who discovers he has a daughter is an interesting spin on the films where he would usually be a deadbeat and learns responsibility through getting to know his offspring and he plays it well. There are a couple of characters who I felt were a little out of place due to their sudden appearance (and disappearance) and one which whose character twist I didn’t fully understand but it may just be me. However, I can’t really think of anything else that I had as much of a problem with and I think that says a lot about a film from a first-time writer/director.
The writing, acting and direction is confident and its self-proclaimed John Hughes influences weren’t just a boast as the film starts to feel like something Hughes would have written himself with nods to his work throughout. It left me feeling good and the story seemed like something new and original and yet warm and familiar at the same time. It makes me think that with this much talent and the right people around her, Loukas’ film career could take off much further than the movie’s Illinois setting.
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