“Up” tells a story about love, grief, and adventure. Young Carl and young Ellie become best friends and later a married couple. They promised each other they will travel together to Paradise Falls and build a house there. Years later, Ellie becomes sick, and Carl takes care of her after she grows ill. Ellie dies, leaving Carl alone and depressed. Carl remains in his home and isolates himself from others. Carl was being forced to leave his home due to getting in trouble, but he was determined to save his home. Carl wanted to keep the promise he made to his wife and fulfill their dream to see the wilds of South America. Carl embarked on a journey to Paradise Falls by lifting his house with thousands of balloons. Carl unintentionally takes young Russell with him, and the adventure begins.

The characters in this movie have tempers, problems, and obsessions. This movie focuses on Carl’s life after Ellie dies. Carl becomes lonely and holds out against the world for fear of again feeling the pain of loss, and he continues to talk to absent Ellie. This movie is also based on fantasies of escaping from life when it becomes too irritating.

From this movie, it takes an unexpected adventure with inquisitive Russell to teach Carl to trust in friendship. This movie addresses death in a nurturing and sensitive manner, and it portrays the realities of human grief. In Carl’s case, he feels the only way he can honor the love he has lost and to overcome his grief is by taking their house.

Things to remember when watching this movie:

–        Reflect on how you are handling grief from the death of a loved one as days stretch into years.

–        How are you honoring and affirming the love you have for your loved ones?

–        Although some would rather be alone on their journey of grief (like Carl), how can we let people in our lives help us through the healing process?

–        Carl’s grief was able to move forward by allowing himself to be drawn into a new future without his beloved wife. Grief is not something that you “move on” from it, but you learn to move forward. How are you making new adventures but still finding ways to relate to your loved one?

–        Grief can be a painful process that entails regrets, anger, sadness, and guilt. All these emotions will begin to weigh us down, and the only way is always “UP”.

Author: Chris Seminario, Ryan’s Place Intern

Indiana University, South Bend – Master of Social Work Program