Amazon’s New Rom-Com ‘Upgraded’ Casts Marisa Tomei as the Anna Wintour of the Auction World

What if you were mistaken for the world's most powerful art expert? The new film dares to ask.

Marisa Tomei in Upgraded (2024). Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios.

Have you ever watched a romantic comedy and thought it needed more spicy auction action in it? Or maybe you think The Devil Wears Prada could be improved with a dash of Hilma af Klint? If so, consider your prayers answered. Next month sees the release of Upgraded, a film in which the worlds of fine art and romance finally get their meet-cute. 

The Amazon Original movie tells the tale of Ana (Riverdale alum Camila Mendes), an intern at a New York auction house, who is sent on a work trip to London by her intimidating boss Claire (Marisa Tomei). While on the plane, she meets the dashing, wealthy William (Archie Renaux), who mistakes her for Claire—an error that Ana decides to run with, as one does. According to the film’s description, “a glamorous chain of events, romance, and opportunity” ensues.

These hijinks unfold against the exalted backdrop of the international art market. The film’s newly released trailer opens with a shot of af Klint’s The Swan, No. 17 (1915), a canvas of concentric circles. “Look at that,” Ana says in a soothing voiceover. “This is actually a depiction of a swan. What do you see? What do you feel?” 

Lena Olin and Camila Mendes in Upgraded (2024). Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios.

A beat later we learn that this is merely Ana practicing her best “art specialist” voice over a small print of the Swedish mystic’s work in her sister’s apartment. Her ambition is to nab a job at “a top art gallery.” To do so, she’s aiming for a recommendation from Claire Dupont, the director of the auction house where Ana’s currently a lowly intern. Claire is played by Tomei with a baroque accent and an air of cutting hauteur, channeling The Devil Wears Prada‘s Anna Wintour character, Miranda Priestly, or maybe someone you’ve worked for yourself at an auction house. 

The film’s central business trip to London sees Ana torn between winning Claire’s favor and winning William’s heart. But things promise to get bumpy when William’s mother, Catherine (played by Lena Olin), is so charmed by Claire’s fake “swanky art director” persona that she puts Ana “in charge of [her] auction.” We have no idea what Catherine is selling, but considering her sumptuous mansion and attendant chauffeur, it’s more than just day-sale material. 

What a pickle! How will our budding lovers ever work this out? Will Ana land that top art gallery job? Most importantly, how much money will Catherine’s stuff fetch?  

Upgraded is not the only recent genre film to center itself in the art world. Last year’s Uma Thurman vehicle, The Kill Room, put an underworld spin on the art trade, while the gruesome thriller Inside, starring Willem Dafoe, transformed a cloistered collector’s home into a torture chamber. Close to our hearts is Velvet Buzzsaw from 2019, which saw Jake Gyllenhaal play the chief art critic of a website called Artweb.

But Upgraded might be the first movie to mine international romance and mistaken identity comedy out of an auction house’s high-stakes machinations. Could be fun. What do you feel? 

 

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