Greetings again from the darkness. There is something to be said for ‘fake it ‘til you make it’, but most of us find bold-faced lying is a bit more difficult to root for. There is also something to be said for keeping to the familiar path, as therein lies safety. Adhering to the familiar is exactly what actress-turned-director Carlson Young has accomplished with the script from co-writers Christine Lenig, Luke Spencer Roberts, and Justin Matthews. We know where this is headed once we hear Anna interpret a piece of art she has mounted (without permission) in the small apartment her sister and (overly boisterous) brother-in-law have allowed her to stay since she’s in debt and without income.
Anna (Camila Mendes, “Riverdale) is chasing her dream of owning an art gallery, and has relocated to NYC for an internship at an art auction house run by dragon-boss Claire DuPont (Oscar winner Marisa Tomei in full Miranda Priestley mode). The Romantic Comedy formula kicks in pretty quickly as Anna gets a break at work and is invited to accompany Claire and her ‘mean girl’ minions to London for a big auction. Those minions (Fola Evans-Akingbola and Rachel Matthews) act as cruel stepmoms to Anna’s Cinderella. The required meet-cute happens after Anna’s titular upgrade to first class. While enjoying the airport spa, Anna accidentally dumps her Bloody Mary on rich boy Will’s high-dollar clothes and shoes.
Anna and Will (Archie Reneax, THE GREATEST BEER RUN EVER, 2022) are of course seated next to each other in first class for the transatlantic flight. It’s at this point where she chooses to avoid clarifying her role at the auction house, allowing Will (he’s rich and he adores kids!) to believe she’s the youngest Director in company history. This lie spirals as Anna weaves her way into the daily life of princely Will and his wealthy mom Catherine (Lena Olin, her must see film is THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING, 1988). Supporting work comes from Anthony Head as dead-by-design artist Julian Marx, and Thomas Kretschmann (KING KONG, 2005) as Arnold, the head of the company.
Every step of the story is predictable, and no apologies are necessary since this is precisely what fans of Hallmark Movies can’t get enough of. Ms. Mendes flashes the charm required for the role, and she’s surrounded by some other very talented folks. For those who prefer a bit more depth to characters and storylines, you likely already know this one’s not made for you. But for those who find pleasantry in the safe path with no surprise twists … a journey where the lovely liars get all the breaks since their heart is in the right place … this one’s for you.
Opens on February 9, 2024 on Prime Video