The Upside of Anger
Review by Jack Foley
IT’S taken almost two years for Mike Binder’s appealing romantic comedy The Upside of Anger to make its way into UK cinemas but the wait has been worth it.
A former Sundance Festival favourite, the film is a dark, witty and sometimes poignant look at suburban housewife Terry (Joan Allen) as her life begins to spin out of control following the sudden unexplained departure of her husband.
Desperate to keep things together and raise her four daughters (played by Erika Christensen, Keri Russell, Alicia Witt and Evan Rachel Wood), Terry finds solace in the bottle until she meets a potential soul-mate in Denny Davies (Kevin Costner), a caddish former baseball player-turned-DJ with attitude.
But the path to true happiness is littered with problems as family tensions and past reputations come back to haunt everyone concerned.
Writer-director Binder – who recently scored a critical hit with Adam Sandler 9/11 drama Reign Over Me and who also appears in this film as Denny’s philandering producer-boss – has crafted a totally absorbing character study that plays to the strengths of its excellent ensemble cast.
Allen is superb as the insecure Terry, emerging as both wounded and angered by the sudden disappearance of her husband, as well as reluctant to give in to Denny’s charms. It’s a role that did, at one time, court talk of a possible Oscar nomination.
But she’s more than matched by another lovably roguish turn from Costner, whose baseball veteran contains some smart nods to previous sporting roles he’s played (in Tin Cup and Bull Durham).
The two enjoy some wonderful moments together that are as amusing, at times, as they are touching at others.
And Terry’s daughters all get a moment of their own to shine in some way – with Evan Rachel Wood once again showing how effortlessly she can portray a disaffected teen.
Come the surprise revelations that help form the smart and satisfying conclusion, audiences should be totally won over by this honest and amusing look at family and relationship struggles.
Running time: 117mins