Rebecca Kahn and Abhishek Prasad’s ironically titled short film, Uplift, details the pain of loss, the depression that follows, the need for human connection throughout, and the tragic consequences that all too often result, in what one could describe as an extremely morbid version of Disney Pixar’s Up.
It’s impossible to imagine the pain of losing a child; it’s every parent’s worst nightmare. And, thankfully, most of us will never have to. But here, we’re introduced to one of the thousands of fathers nationwide who is forced to live this nightmare. Lying in his son’s bed, in his empty house, James Acton’s character (who remains nameless) shoulders the burden of this grief alone. His wife, long gone, and the only people trying to get in touch are Celebrating Life Mortuary, who also can’t get in touch with his wife and are about to pass the unpaid $1200 funeral bill onto a collection agency. While the cluttered and messy kitchen, littered with unwashed pots and empty alcohol bottles, represents the fractured psyche of a man with nothing to live for, and no desire to carry on doing so, either.
A short “power of the moment” news clip – “a moment when we let go of the heavy things and allow ourselves to fly” – on the TV eeks a smile out of our lead, as he watches a man take to the air strapped to helium-filled balloons—a moment of profound realisation for the man and a small glimmer of hope for the viewer. Uplift immediately feels like a different film: no longer are we kept at arm’s length and forced to observe from a distance merely. We’re caught up in the man’s reinvigorated self and swept away by the whimsy of the somewhat unusual homage he has planned for his son.
But of course, life isn’t a Disney film, and happy endings aren’t always guaranteed. A fact which we get starkly reminded of when the true extent of the man’s depression finally comes to fruition. That’s what this movie does so well: it subverts the expectations of the viewer at every turn, culminating in a final terrible twist, one so shocking, impactful, and, tragically, so easily avoidable. Uplift is a profound portrait of loneliness, loss and depression; a rallying cry for mental health campaigns and a reminder that a little kindness between people can go a long way—maybe even save a life.