People in romantic relationships or friendships learn and evolve through different situations. In John Addis’ eight-episode series Still Up, best friends Lisa (Antonia Thomas), a free-spirited illustrator, and Danny (Craig Roberts), a journalist, thrive on endless conversations. The two insomniacs talk all night to beat the boredom of sleepless nights.
Still Up is a friendship film at heart, even as it endorses the age-old ‘why can’t men and women be just friends’? theory. When Lisa guesses what’s in Danny’s mind, the latter asks her, “How did you get that from just a hello?” “Cause I am fluent in Danny,” she responds. So you know what lies ahead, but with each episode running a little less than half an hour, Still Up doesn’t bore you. The light-hearted comedy drama works thanks mainly due to the glorious chemistry of the leads.
Danny, who is awkward with people, is agoraphobic. Confined to his home the whole day, Lisa is the only person he interacts with by choice. However, Danny can’t avoid his two poles-apart neighbours. He calls one the Cat Man (Rich Fulcher), a peculiar cat owner, and the other is Adam (Luke Fetherston), a firefighter who is forever enthusiastic and quite helpful in sorting out Danny’s anxiousness about stepping out.
Still Up (Episode 1-3, English)
Director: John Addis
Cast: Antonia Thomas, Craig Roberts, Blake Harrison, Rich Fulcher, Samantha Spiro, Lois Chimimba, Luke Fetherston
Runtime: 28 minutes
Storyline: Bonded by insomnia, best friends Lisa and Danny stay connected to each other late into the night and find their way through a world of weird surprises even as their relationship deepens.
Lisa lives with Veggie (Blake Harrison), a responsible stepfather to their daughter Poppy (Bronte Smith). Veggie is more dutiful than romantic as a partner. Despite being hands-on, he is never in sync with the emotional state of Lisa. Her mother sums up their relationship well, when she says, “What that man (Veggie) lacks in personality, he makes up for in reliability. He is great, but you don’t owe anything to anybody. If you are questioning things, it’s okay.”
Director John Addis tests the bond between Danny and Lisa by introducing a third person into their lives, even if that’s for a short while. It happens when Lisa sets up a dating app for Danny without realising she has more compatibility with him than the many women on the app. Danny finds a match, and Lisa’s insecurity hits the roof.
However, the writing of Still Up (Steve Burge and Natalie Walter are the writers) diminishes when it attempts to show situational humour. Be it Lisa’s recollection of her unorthodox aunt, Adam’s story of how his uncle saved his colleague’s broken nose, or a shoddily-written-and-staged harassment scene inside a bus, the scenes that interrupt the conversations between the leads hamper the flow of the series.
But Still Up is so much fun whenever Danny and Lisa go on and on about everything under the sun. The dialogues, coated by hardcore satire, will have you laughing, and the performances strengthen the humorous script. Antonia Thomas exudes superb energy, and you root for her when she carries Lisa in her quiet moments, especially when she is undecided about her relationships. Craig Roberts, with his deadpan expressions, brings the right amount of honesty required for his character.
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It will be interesting to see how Danny and Lisa will get more upfront about their feelings for each other. I also hope the beautifully organic relationship doesn’t turn syrupy as it faces stronger conflicts. The first three episodes of Still Up swing between being mostly hilarious and a tad ordinary. Even if it’s aimed at offering simple entertainment, one hopes that the series becomes a bit more ambitious as it moves forward.
Still Up is currently streaming on Apple TV+