Good artists copy; great artists steal. I coined that — OK, Picasso supposedly did. But the maxim may as well be stamped across the forehead of Ana Santos (Camila Mendes), a broke, harried auction house assistant who, after scoring a major work trip to London, falls into posing as an art world V.I.P.
In “Upgraded,” a sly charmer on Amazon Prime Video, not only is Ana dealt the lucky break to London, but she also obtains a flight upgrade to first class, where her seat happens to be next to Will (Archie Renaux), the unassuming heir to a fine art fortune. Mistaking her for an art scene notable, the British flirt welcomes Ana into the fold, setting in motion an impostor comedy stacked with ritzy outings, make-out montages and close calls with Ana’s persnickety boss (Marisa Tomei).
Directed by Carlson Young, “Upgraded” also takes a page from the Picasso handbook, borrowing liberally from “The Devil Wears Prada” and other stories of industrious underlings faking it to make it. Indeed, one senses that Mendes, a chic and effortless leading lady, would have made for a much more palatable Emily in Paris.
The movie is unevenly directed, and some scenes struggle to clear even the low bar set by more polished streaming originals. But Young succeeds nonetheless in channeling the freshman thrill of plunging into an alluring adult milieu. Its class-conscious foundations ensure that “Upgraded” never veers into lifestyle porn, but many of its fairy-tale pleasures hinge on vicarious consumption — much like the art world.