Home is where the heart is. I think…
Chrissie is a young woman living on the streets of New York City, after she ran away from home in Ohio. She usually finds a place to sleep each night by picking up men in bars for one-night stands, and then leaves the next morning. In addition to trading sex for a place to sleep, she works various small, odd jobs for shelter, saving up to afford a living space with Cece, a homeless friend from the shelter.
Things seem to change for her when she meets Dave, played by Outsource’s Ben Rappaport, who opts to get to know Chrissie, instead of simply engaging in a one-night stand. At first, this disrupts Chrissie’s routine, but then it opens up a new one. The two eventually spark an intimate relationship, and, from the second date on, she spends each night with Dave at his apartment. The catch is that he doesn’t know that Chrissie is homeless, and Chrissie has to constantly steer him away from spending the night at her non-existent apartment; for this, as well as a dark secret regarding her past, may ruin an otherwise perfect relationship.
As far as the acting in the film is concerned, every cast member turns in a fine performance, particularly Stacey Maltin (who is also the film’s screenwriter) as Chrissie. Despite the quality of the performance, the character of Chrissie is a bit unclear and uninteresting. What this film needed was a more in-depth look into how Chrissie ended up in her current situation.
The weird thing about this movie is that while it is competently made, it has no emotional punch to it. I guess the area where the film struggles the most is in its inconsistent tone. In the aftermath of Chrissie’s first date with Dave, because he didn’t invite her back to his apartment, she ends up going back to the shelter she usually visits to go to sleep. Since there is no vacancy for the night, the shelter’s owner, Frank, offers her both his bed and a job opportunity, only after she performs oral sex on him. This scene, which highlights themes of homelessness and prostitution, was unusually uncomfortable to watch, and does not seem to fit with the rest of the film, which plays more like a light romantic comedy focusing on Chrissie’s relationship with Dave. It is as if Disney’s Aladdin was suddenly interrupted for a minute by Martin Bell’s American Heart, and then switched back.
In addition to having just barely enough material to fill in a 90-minute runtime, the film plays almost entirely straight and strangely leaves many subplots and conflicts unfinished. By the end, I felt that nothing important was actually accomplished, especially in the final scene, which, in my opinion, should have occurred earlier in the film.
Landing Up is a film that has its heart in the right place, and it is admittedly well shot and acted, but the awkward tonal shifts keep the film unfocused, and makes for a rather uneven experience. Like the character of Chrissie herself, the story has no real home.
Landing Up is available to watch on streaming services such as Amazon, Google Play, and iTunes.