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 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
Just before Hadley's wedding, when they are talking in the bedroom, she says she's showing and then you see her stomach. She's not obviously pregnant, although it does stick out a little. Then, after the wedding, they show her dancing with her new husband and her stomach is then poking way out, as if she grew 5 months' worth during the wedding. See more »
"The Upside of Anger" showcases many good performances but make no mistake about it, this movie's clearly the Joan Allen Show. And what a show she puts on.
About an hour into the film, Allen's Terry Wolfmeyer bursts into a room unannounced. Her reaction lasts just a few seconds, but they're priceless. Writer-director Mike Binder keeps the camera on Allen and what we get is a moment of sheer brilliance, one that should be shown to all acting students.
Binder does something awfully bold in this film. He lets his story revolve around two seemingly unlikable people - Terry and her neighbor, Danny Davies (Kevin Costner). They're two self-destructive, terribly selfish, occasionally boorish people who wallow in their own pity. Terry's furious and hurt because her husband left her for his Swedish secretary, while Danny's a former Detroit Tiger who now spends signing baseball memorabilia and running a radio talk show where he refuses to talk baseball.
They find solace in each other, not because they particularly like each other, but because they each need a drinking buddy. But thanks to two very fine performances, they're likable.
Much to Binder's credit, he doesn't simply settle his story on Terry and Danny. Wisely, Binder lets his story take its time. We get to know Terry's children, too. There's Andy (Erika Christensen), who's dating an older lech Shep (Binder); Popeye (Evan Rachel Wood), the youngest and budding filmmaker; Emily (Keri Russell), who feels unloved; and rebellious Hadley (Alicia Witt). These young women have their own personalities and spending time with them makes the story richer.
Costner is awfully comfortable playing Danny. In fact, Danny is Crash Davis, slightly older and a bit more cynical. Danny doesn't like clinging to his baseball past, but he knows that's all he's got. It's nice to see Costner in these roles. He plays them better than most and it's a loose, relaxed performance that never goes over the top.
But the movie really is all about Allen. It's tough turning a self-destructive and pitiful alcoholic into someone we want to spend time with. But Allen simply sparkles in the role. She's smart, quick-witted and fraying at the edges, trying to keep her wits about her. We not only understand her roller-coaster emotions, but also find them believable. Performances like hers are truly rare and Allen does nothing wrong here.
Had this film been released last year, Hilary Swank might very well not have walked away with her second Academy Award. Not only does Allen deserve a nomination for her remarkable performance in this film, she also probably deserves to win it.
What surprising about Binder's story is that despite all its warmth and humor, there's still a very nice and unexpectedly dark edge to it all. It's refreshing to see a film where the characters and the situations aren't exactly all that rosy. And even moments that could have easily been played for their melodrama are brilliantly underplayed and toned down. They work much better this way, than having characters resort to histrionics.
The film's voice-over narration, on the other hand, gets a bit preachy. And a revelation at the end is a bit questionable. Astute viewers would figure it out because that's really the only rational way to deal with it. Binder sort of lets us in on it very early on in the film.
We never get to see the title's real meaning in this film. That, presumably, comes after the end credits and all these characters get on with their lives. Nevertheless, "The Upside of Anger" is a good film studded with a great performance by one of today's finest actresses.
31 of 42 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?