Review by James Lindorf
Writer-director-star Laura Jean Marsh is best known for her work in front of the camera in films like “Scott and Sid” and “X-men First Class.” In recent years she has moved to both the writer’s desk and director’s chair. “Giddy Stratospheres,” her first feature-length movie, is an ode to London’s 00’s Indie Music scene. Gravitas Ventures will release “Giddy Stratospheres” on digital platforms on September 14th. The film has a running time of 67 minutes and will not be rated by the MPAA.
Daniel (Jamal Franklin) and Lara (Marsh) are misfits, best friends, and at the center of a storm spiraling out of control on its quest for euphoria. Donning new boots, perfectly scrawled eyeliner, and ripped tights, they are ready to indulge in a night of live music, furious dancing, and heavy drug use. At 6 am, they spill out of the all-night party with just a few hours to make it to Lara’s grandmother’s funeral. With no sleep, Lara is upset, unfocused, and clinging to a poem, she wrote when she was 10. On the trip to the funeral home, Daniel is pressuring Lara to remember the events of the night before, but she insists it was nothing but another great night out. As the day wears on, Lara teeters on the edge of a breakdown before everything comes crashing down.
“Giddy Stratospheres” is set to a soundtrack of Indie Hits from Franz Ferdinand, The Futureheads, The Walkmen, Le Tigre, The Rapture, Art Brut, The Cribs, Black Wire, The Rocks, Theoretical Girl, Pink Grease, and of course, The Long Blondes. It is probably the most successful element of the film. The music and the setting perfectly encapsulate a moment in time and the lifestyle and emotions that came with it. Beyond that, there isn’t much worth discussing. The acting isn’t good, but it’s not the worst I’ve seen this year. The cinematography is gritty and gives the film a visual style more fitting a story set 50 years ago, not 15ish.
Most of these issues are subjective. However, the biggest problem is the story, and it is not really up to debate. It is rushed with just a 67-minute runtime, and it plays out in a chaotic time-hopping fashion. It is the cinematic version of having a friend telling you about something that happened a decade ago, but they don’t remember all the details. Even then, the pieces they do recall can’t be fully trusted because they were really high at the time. With more experience and a longer runtime, I wouldn’t mind seeing Marsh return to this story. But at her current level, there isn’t much worth recommending beyond the music and embracing a time period. “Giddy Stratospheres” earns a 1.5 out of 5.
Original Language: English
Director: Laura Jean Marsh
Producer: Bethany Slater
Writer: Laura Jean Marsh
Release Date (Streaming): September 14th, 2021