Warning: Major spoilers ahead for the ending of “Upgraded.”
“Upgraded” star Camila Mendes considers her character’s arc to be a rags-to-riches path, but more in terms of her self-esteem and confidence.
In Carlson’s Young directorial debut, Mendes plays Ana Santos, a young art historian with the aspiration of curating her own gallery one day. As an unpaid trainee at a premiere NYC auction house Erwin’s, Ana couch surfs at her sister’s apartment, where her sister’s fiancé constantly verbalizes his hope that Ana will find her own footing soon. In a stroke of luck, Ana points out a major error during an auction right before the piece involved goes into bidding, landing her a third assistant job to fierce Claire Dupont (Marisa Tomei) on a trip to London for a major auction. When a benevolent airline agent upgrades her to first class on the flight over, she meets William (Archie Renaux) who mistakes her job position as that of Claire’s, the director, and Ana capitalizes on the little white lie, until it isn’t so little anymore.
“Ana’s very clearly insecure about her status in life. Throughout the film, Will is falling in love with her as a person, and their dynamic, and in her mind, she thinks, ‘Oh, he’s just interested in me because I’m this director, he thinks I’m a whole other type of human that I’m not,’” Mendes told TheWrap. “She’s so afraid of telling him the truth because she thinks that then he won’t be interested in her anymore.”
In the meet cute before their flight, Ana bumps into William with a Bloody Mary in hand and face mask on in the private first class lounge. She spills the drink onto William’s suede shoes, but he doesn’t make a big deal out of it. Later on, he sits next to her on the plane, first complaining about her mishap over the phone before realizing that he was sitting next to her. Then he started to tease her about it.
“As most things start off, it’s quite innocent. You never really know how serious things are gonna get, hence Ana’s lie about [being] the director and stuff, and maybe there’s a bit too much teasing going on,” Renaux said. And, then they start to really fall for each other and become infatuated. It’s a bit of a whirlwind, holiday romance-type situation.
Renaux’s William approaches their relationship with insecurity as well because he’s been wealthy his whole life, so he worries that girls only ever want to date him for his money and status. Once he realizes that Ana’s been lying to him, he jumps to conclusions and assumes that her intentions are gold-digging as well.
“That ending scene is like a moment of clarity, where it’s like, ‘I don’t actually give a shit that you don’t make money and that you live on your sister’s futon because if you knew me, you would know that I don’t care about that stuff.’ It’s a nice moment of clarity for Ana to realize that she can be comfortable with who she is.”
William makes it clear to her that he’s not the type of person she thought he was in regards to what he values in a relationship. He tells her he wishes he could have met the real her, “futon and all. She heads back to the States without him, but William ultimately decides to give it another shot in the end when Ana has curated her own gallery and achieved her dream.
“Even the ending [is] still not like set in stone that this thing’s going to work out.” But it still ties in with that theme of chances,” Renaux added. “If you want something you got you got to get after it. And you won’t know. Nothing is guaranteed, but if you want something to work, you have to go and chase it.”
“Upgraded” is now streaming on Prime Video.