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The Upside of Anger 2005
Description: After her husband runs off with his secretary, Terry Wolfmeyer is left to fend for herself -- and her four daughters. As she hits rock bottom, Terry finds a mate and drinking buddy in next-door neighbor Denny, a former baseball player. As the two grow closer, and her daughters increasingly rely on Denny, Terry begins to have reservations about where their relationship is headed.
Released: 01 Apr 2005 Director: Mike Binder Writers: Mike Binder Actors: Joan Allen, Kevin Costner, Erika Christensen, Keri Russell Genres: Comedy, Drama
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The Upside of Anger Reviews:

This is a film that draws audiences through its nice hero portrayals that run the gamut from the joy of rediscovering love, to potential and current tragedy and heartache, as well as anger.However, some may search the pace a tad slow while Costner-bashers (and there are many) will remark that he has finally found a role that suits him. Not that he shines here but the hero he plays is a reflection of his current life - a has-been who has seen better days and is clinging on to fame and celebrity by the skin of his teeth.Regardless of what you think or feel about Costner, it is shocking to see him deteriorate so much physically as the result of middle age has totally come home to hit him in the gut (pun intended!).Costner's ability to fit into a family initially thought to have lost its husband/father figure to a mid-age love affair to an ex-office staff, only for the shocking truth to be revealed later, lifts the movie.The nice interaction between four daughters and an mad wife with Costner's father/suitor role does not come across as sickeningly sweet and is handled deftly by the users and nice direction as the plot unfolds.If you can spare a couple of hours and wish a quiet film that does not shock with violence or ridicule with over the top humour, this may be just the one to while away a rainy day with. Not Kleenex box at hand material, but sufficiently absorbing and engaging enough.


I've everytime admired Kevin Costner's laconic screen presence, in BULL DURHAM, TIN CUP, even DANCES WITH WOLVES, JFK and PERFECT WORLD. Actually no longer leading-man handsome, he's developed into a first- rate hero actor, and as a washed-up, alcoholic ex-baseball player-turned radio talk-show host, Costner offers company and comfort to Joan Allen as a drinking buddy in the bittersweet THE UPSIDE OF ANGER. Mike Binder's magnificent movie about an abandoned wife of four teenage women could qualify as one of this year's greatest films. But because it was released so early, did only respectable business, and isn't a car for an over-hyped box-office attraction on magazine covers now, it will probably only receive the respect of word-of-mouth. I saw this engrossing, deeply unbelievable movie when it opened last winter, and made up my mind that I would have to have the DVD as later as it became available. Joan Allen, as Terry Wolfmeyer dazzles us in a performance that is both comically and dramatically masterful as the drunken mother seemingly at fight with her four pretty daughters. Terry's rage over her husband's abandonment of her and their children, is a mean-spirited rebuke to her daughters, who test with nice patience to survive their mother's theatrical bitterness. But mama has given them the gift of her humor, and I think it's what saves these girls. There's a look that Joan Allen gives when one of her daughters is doing exactly what she doesn't wish them to be doing. What it is they are doing to upset their mother is everytime in doubt because she's never really making rational sense. She's only filtering her displeasure through the rheumy eyes of her last cocktail. There's a stage at the family dining room where Hadley, her eldest daughter (the ever fascinating Alica Witt, who could be starring in her own movies), announces she's pregnant with her second baby. Allen was none-to-happy that her daughter opted for marriage and motherhood over a career, and her beady- eyed stare at her daughter's recent announcement of her grand-motherhood is a comic masterpiece. But when Allen finally can no longer avoid facing her crippling anger, Allen breaks your heart. Having never had an outlet for her comic abilities, she's surprises you with her skill. That she walks this fine tightrope between both extremes tells much for her talent as an actor. Finally back to Costner. Denny Davies might have been a risky hero for Costner to revisit. Afterall, he's played washed up or played out sports characters before. His career has suffered a very precipitous fall following the media-created debacle of his so-called grandiose ego in WATERWORLD, and the occasions have been several and far between since then. But Denny is a rich hero any actor would love to sink their teeth into, and Costner embraces Denny's humanity with consummate ease. Discovering his neighbor has been abandoned by her husband, Denny offers to hold her company while they drink. They warily circle every another during these boozy afternoons of watching television, drinking and not telling much to every other. And when that changes, you see the transition from mate to lover mainly through the eyes of Denny. When she first proposes they sleep together, it's Denny who chickens out at the last minute. But as their relationship develops, you see Denny reach out to Terry's women in a method that is sympathetic but also gives them room to agree and then love him in return. This is a terribly necessary use for Denny. So when the youngest of the women finally asks him if he plans to marry Terry, Denny comes to understand that the women have welcomed him into the family. Costner is sensational in this film, but he keeps it all so low-key, everytime keeping the focus on Allen's character, and he ends up giving her the film--and rightfully so, I think. This is a gift to Allen. Costner recognizes this, and I think the film is all the better for his act of generosity. This is a performance that folks will talk about for years to come. Like Jeff Bridges and Dennis Quaid, Costner is one of our greatest screen actors, and it's nice to see him in a role that is truly worthy of his fine talent. Every of the daughter's is skillfully rendered by Erka Christensen, Evan Rachel Wood, Keri Russel and Alicia Witt. These young girls look and act like siblings. Auteur Mike Binder has given himself a role as Denny's radio producer, who is romancing one of the daughters, much to her mother's disgust. He's funny, pathetic, and just a bit creepy as a Romeo with romantic concepts method above his station!Binder's fine script gives this ensemble movie the ballast that keeps you laughing and crying. He's found the emotional core in these character's lives, and the pace of the film, which clocks in at just under two hours, provides a sense of completeness. Ultimately it is Costner's generosity as an actor that so disarms the viewer. In each shot, Joan Allen's Terry is the riveting center, with Costner testing to her each moment without stealing attention away from her. That earns my whole- hearted respect. THE UPSIDE OF ANGER could be seen and savored by anyone who cares deeply about moves with something to tell about the human condition. Binder's adroit direction makes this a movie to set beside TERMS OF ENDEARMENT, AS GOOD AS IT GETS, and Lasse Hallstrom's vastly underrated SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT. Finally it's such a pleasure to see two pros such as Allen and Costner hit it right out of the park!


Life doesn't come with an instruction manual or a script to follow, it's basically improv on a everyday basis, and as it plays out folks and things often are not who or what they seem to be on the surface. It's reality, as opposed to the method you expect, hope or wish it all to be; truth, as opposed to an individual perception of truth. That's life. And "The Upside of Anger," written and directed by Mike Binder, explores some difficult realities that differ drastically from expectations and perceptions.The movie opens with a funeral, a somber note which in a sense prepares you for what is to follow, after a flash back of three years, at which mission the storyline begins. Terry Wolfmeyer (Joan Allen) is at loose ends because her husband has run off with his secretary, leaving her and four daughters behind to fend for themselves. Angry, distraught and a stone's throw from bitter, Terry turns to alcohol to deaden the results of what has been a life-altering experience. Luckily-- or maybe not-- Terry has a neighbor, Denny Davies (Kevin Costner), an ex-pro baseball user turned radio talk present host, with whom to share a drink and commiserate. Her daughters (three teens and one in college) are supportive, as well-- to a point. But they are every in their own method also struggling to understand why their father deserted them. By all accounts, this was in no method a dysfunctional, angst-ridden family, so the actions of their father is a mystery to them all. Naturally, it's a pivotal mission in their lives, and before any of them can transport on, especially Terry, they have to know why he did what he did. In the meantime, with or without this required closure, life is event to and around them.Binder (who also appears in the movie as the producer of Denny's radio show) displays an astute knowledge of human nature with this film, and how random the myriad twists and turns of life can be. He holds your attention from the opening stage (who's funeral is it, anyway?), and just when you think you know where the storyline is going it takes an unexpected turn. And he is in no method attempting to manipulate his audience; rather, he is giving you a reflection of the method life so often simply does not go the method you think it's going to. It's a succinct look at relationships, and of how fragile-- as well as resilient-- we all can be.As Terry, Joan Allen sets vanity aside to make her hero and turns in an Oscar caliber performance in doing so. When she gets up in the morning she looks like a middle-aged girl with insufferable issues and a hangover, a girl in the throes of coping with a traumatic experience who is desperate to reconnect with a life she no longer has and who will do anything within her power to hang on to what she has left. She's walking a tightrope over a deep abyss and she's understandably on edge, so when one of her women tugs the rope and compromises her control and security, she quite naturally lashes out, proving the old adage you everytime harm the one you love. There's a stage in which a grieving Terry draws her hands to her breast and, head lowered, utters a cry, and anyone who has ever known any type of grief or loss in their life will at that moment know exactly what she is going through. It's a terrific piece of acting, a performance that is altogether affecting and memorable.And, as performances go, Kevin Costner, too, puts vanity aside to make a hero that is entirely convincing. Denny Davies is paunchy, his hair is thin and most of the time he looks as though he's had one beer too many. Still, he's engaging, and you receive the feeling there's a complex individual hiding behind an external simplicity that perhaps supports to mask his real feelings about a lot of things in his life, including his career on the diamond. Why, for example, does he refuse to talk about baseball on his sports talk show? In it's purity, this is arguably Costner's finest performance ever.Top notch performances are turned in, as well, by Erika Christensen, Evan Rachel Wood, Keri Russell and Alicia Witt as Terry's daughters, respectively, Andy, Popeye, Emily and Hadley; and by Binder himself as Shep. In the end, "The Upside of Anger" is an involving, memorable movie that celebrates life and leaves you with a sense of hope, that no matter how terrible things receive we all have the capacity to receive through it and somehow search the light at the end of the tunnel. And that's the magic of the movies.



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