Straight-laced Rose breaks off relations with her party girl sister, Maggie, over an indiscretion involving Rose's boyfriend. The chilly atmosphere is broken with the arrival of Ella, the grandmother neither sister knew existed.
An uptight, conservative, businesswoman accompanies her boyfriend to his eccentric and outgoing family's annual Christmas celebration and finds that she's a fish out of water in their free-spirited way of life.
A British investment broker inherits his uncle's chateau and vineyard in Provence, where he spent much of his childhood. He discovers a new laid-back lifestyle as he tries to renovate the estate to be sold.
A sharp-witted suburban wife, Terry Wolfmeyer, is left to raise her four headstrong daughters when her husband unexpectedly disappears. Things get even more hectic when she falls for her neighbor Denny, a once-great baseball star turned radio d.j. This leaves her daughters out on a limb. They are forced to juggle their mom's romantic dilemmas as well as their own. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Lauren Ambrose changed her mind about playing the role of the daughter whose obsession with dance and dieting almost kills her. Keri Russell soon took on the role. Russell had studied classical dance when she was younger. She said she just needed some catch-up classes. See more »
In the credits, thanks are given to Universal Pictures for allowing them to use a still photo of Kevin Costner from "For the Love of the Game". The correct title is "For Love of the Game". See more »
[of her broken heart]
It's not the kind of thing that ever heals.
Yeah, it does. It heals. It just heals funny. You know, you more or less walk... with a limp.
See more »
"Swan Lake, Op. 20"
Written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performed by Weiner Philharmoniker
Franz Bartholomey, James Levine and Rainer Kuchl
Courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon
Licensed by kind permission from The Universal Film & TV Licensing Division See more »
After her performance in "The Ice Storm" it is no surprise that Joan Allen could carry a movie like "The Upside of Anger". Nor was it a surprise that she and Alicia Witt could beautifully play off each other in their confrontational mother and daughter roles. What did surprise was that the film featured equally strong performances from the other members of the cast. Even writer/director Mike Binder does a fine "on-screen" job as a slimy but not entirely unsympathetic radio producer. Kevin Costner would be wise to stay with this type of role (and with comedy) instead of big-budget epic stuff.
The casting of Witt with Erika Christensen, Evan Rachel Wood, and Keri Russell as the four sisters was inspired. It was refreshing just to see a film family that looked enough alike physically to actually be related to each other. Since Christensen looks so much like Julia Stiles they could have even added a fifth sister although their resemblance is so strong that it might be confusing. All the subtle birth order distinctions felt right. The oldest (Witt) was the most connected to mom even though it did not appear so on the surface. The second (Christensen-who absolutely glows on the screen) was determined to be different than her older sister. The third (Russell) was the most connected to the father, missed him the most, and had the least understanding of the mother. The youngest (Wood) was way ahead of the curve and the most perceptive character in the film. Watch for all this stuff because it is there, and watch how no matter how down the mother becomes she continues to monitor the welfare of her daughters.
Binder gave into the temptation to use cheesy special effect gimmicks several times (the explosion at the dinner table, the neighborhood transition from summer to winter, the ballet fantasy, and the daughters growing older during the funeral scene). Although done well they seemed out of place. Also Binder should review the Kent State shootings, there were four students killed-not six.
There is a spectacular shot at the wedding. Beginning as an over the shoulder shot of Hadley (Witt) sucking in her "plump" cheeks, the camera pans slightly right and moves toward the wedding party as the focus changes to bring them out of a blur.
The film's ironic twist in the last 15 minutes is borrowed wholesale from "Whatever Happened to Aunt Alice". I particularly liked Wood's beautiful narration which helped clarify the title and theme, necessary (or at least helpful) after this ironic story line twist. She managed to sound both detached and involved, it is actually the voice-over for her broadcasting class project. When we are suddenly forced to reevaluate everything that has gone before in what we thought was just an interesting comedy, Wood steps in and steers us to internalize the theme. They go out on a shot of Wood looking up from her Mac and smiling. Amazing.
This is the best of Binder's writing: "Anger and resentment can stop you in your tracks. That's what I know now. It needs nothing to burn but the air and the life that it swallows and smothers. It's real though, the fury, even when it isn't. It can change you, turn you, mold you and shape you into something you're not. The only upside of anger then, is the person you become, hopefully someone that wakes up one day and realizes they're not afraid of its journey. Someone that knows that the truth is, at best, a partially told story. That anger, like growth, comes in spurts and fits and in its wake leaves a new chance of acceptance and the promise of calm".
"The Upside of Anger" is one of those rare films that I believe everyone should make an effort to connect with, doing so will make you a better person. Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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