Landing Up is a confident look at the struggles we endure to make a better life for ourselves. Director Dani Tenenbaum and writer – producer – star Stacey Maltin make excellent use of locations throughout New York City as well as music to convey a modern fairy tale of love and trust. Now streaming on Amazon.
Although our upbringing and backgrounds have a large impact on the direction of our lives, our choices have the power to shape where we end up. Sometimes life can feel so overwhelming that we choose the least desirable option.
Dani Tenenbaum’s award winning Landing Up uses the lurid underbelly of New York City as the background for Chrissie (Stacey Maltin) and Cece (E’dena Hines.)
For Chrissie, she wants a better life, but the downward pressures on trying to find a roof in New York City can be daunting. As a result, she turns to scandalous ways with her friend, Cece to make ends meet. Seeking shelter where they can find it, Chrissie turns tricks. She does odd jobs during the day and picks up men after hours. That is until she meets David (Ben Rappaport). And like a fairy tale, they fall in love.
The script by Stacey Maltin reminded me of Pretty Woman, but it veers left rather quickly as director Tenenbaum opens up the dark, seedy world to us. Maltin plays a very capable woman who works very hard to keep her secrets buried from David, who is a successful ad executive. Ben Rappaport plays lovelorn rather well, requiring the snoopy roommate, Avi (Jay DeYonker) to balance David out as Chrissie’s secrets are unraveled.
Tenenbaum surrounded himself with expert craftspeople. The cinematography by Claudio Rietti and Aharon Rothschild captures the essence of the dueling dichotomies, the “haves” and the “have-nots”, adding a nice contextual layer to Chrissie and David’s individual journeys.
Music is a key to this story as well, as a number of modern pop tracks create an empathetic layer on our characters. The selection of music certainly amplifies the emotionalism that Tenenbaum was going after. Themes such as living in the now, drifting, hiding, and the desire to make progress are all evident. The score by Moshe Bonen underscores Chrissie and David’s journey together
If I had one criticism, it would be that Chrissie becomes a little too desperate. The path of the character makes sense for her growth, but her desperation leads to other questionable choices. Perhaps it makes David, who is willing to overlook discrepancies in her story more sympathetic. It certainly helps to strengthen the third act, which I enjoyed tremendously.
Landing Up gives us the opportunity to see the consequences of our choices, but it doesn’t dismiss them so easily. No matter your station in life, the choices we make directly influence our direction. Choosing to rise above our station takes courage and conviction, especially through our most closely guarded secrets. Dani Tenenbaum and Stacey Maltin demonstrate this desire in spades.
Maybe the Beatles were right: Love is all you need.
Now on Amazon Prime, Landing Up has not been rated by the MPAA. Discretion is advised.