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Friday, March 15, 2013

Movie Review - Upside Down

The bold premise of writer/director Juan Solanas's new film is responsible for its high points and low points, you might say it has its ups and downs.  Upside Down, starring Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst, is a romantic drama about two planets that are so close that the highest mountain tops on each can almost touch, but are ruled by opposing gravitational pulls...or something like that.

Adam (Sturgess) and Eden (Dunst) meet and fall in love as children from the two worlds, she from 'Up Top' where she lives in wealthy affluence and he from 'Down Below' where poverty and squalor are the pervasive norm.  Despite their opposing gravity, they are able to interact with each other and form a friendship that grows deeper over time, until Eden takes a tragic fall that ends their relationship, with Adam assuming she's dead.

Ten years later, when Adam is working in a repair shop, he discovers that Eden is still alive when he sees her on television.  She works for Trans-World, (which I was sad to discover wasn't a network specializing in transgendered programming), a global corporation that connects the two planets.  Adam gets a job there to get closer to Eden and devises a plan to impersonate an Up-Topper wearing padding laced with 'inverse matter' that would allow him to interact on her level.

The wacky conceit is sort of hard to follow, and getting into the science of it will probably only confuse you and take you out of the film.  So never mind how the two lovers get to the tops of mountains as children free of any climbing gear, and don't try to understand how long it should take for the inverse matter to burn when Adam is spending time with Eden on her planet, just knowing they are in love and trying to overcome great obstacles to be together is enough to get the idea.

However, the major problem with the film is that the stunning visuals of the intermingled skies and the stark contrast between the pristine coldness of Up Top and the dystopian squalor of Down Below, created by Production Designer Alex McDowell, Visual Effects Supervisor Francois Dumoulin and Cinematographer Pierre Gill, completely outshine the actual story.  The script is mostly flat and the characters, while earnestly portrayed, are hard to connect with, especially in scenes where characters from separate gravitational pulls try to have a conversation with someone, who, from their perspective, is hanging upside down.  Not to mention the head-scratcher of an ending.

Solanas, can be commended on his ambition with this project, but overall it didn't quite work.  Had the science been streamlined and the script been funnier and leaned more toward romantic comedy, it might have had enough levity to really take flight.

6/10 Moons ******

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