Review: Upside Down
Stay with me here. Two Earths abut one another, each with their own gravity and related laws. A large tower connects the two planets at their nearest point, allowing access to both, but rules of nature prevent intermingling (something about eventually combustion). What’s more, the rich ‘upstairs’ people don’t want to hang out with the poor ‘downstairs’ people. It’s a metaphor, get it? As it turns out, a boy from one Earth falls in love with a woman from the other.
Who’s in It?
Jim Sturgess is Adam, the humble forlorn beau, while Kirsten Dunst is the rich woman he loves. Her name is Eden. It’s symbolic or something, get it? Timothy Spall plays Adam’s trusty companion, and his name is Bob Boruchowitz, of which there seems to be nothing analogous or allusive.
Writer and director Juan Solanas’ reach far exceeds his grasp in this pretty, reductive, and magical fantasy-romance that would be better served as a short. In fact, it was a short film. It’s called Head Over Heels, by Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly, and it was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Animated Short category this past year. It beautifully told the story of an elderly married couple that live together, but one lives on the ceiling and the other the floor, and the pair struggles to meet in the middle.
Here we have a beautifully imagined world – make that two worlds – with a lovely premise and little more. Despite the strange visuals that unfold before the viewers, such as people walking on the ceiling, characters falling up, and an office building that sits in the center of two worlds, with employees on top and bottom, there is little in the film to get worked up about. Or down about, I suppose.
As precocious children, Adam and Eden meet, as they respectively climb the highest peaks on their own Earth’s, only to spot each other along the way. As they risk pain and capture jumping across worlds (the government doesn’t allow for fraternization between the planets), Eden falls and bumps her head, is taken by the police, and forgets Adam entirely.
Ten years later, Adam finds Eden working for some evil conglomerate, and works his way in to get a job and win her back. There are no surprises along the way, and while some of the visuals again are mightily entertaining, the list of rules governing these worlds mentioned in the beginning seems to be broken often, allowing for a direct route to the formulaic end.
There isn’t much in doubt, despite attempts by Solanas to create problems. For whatever reason, the officers of this strange police state just shoot at people for hanging out in the woods. It’s a head scratcher, along with the rest of the film. At least the images will distract you from a story full of holes and familiar threads.
Should You See It?
No, see Head Over Heels instead.
“Men are like realtors, they buy and sell and keep their options open. Women are contractors, they build to last.” The sage Bob Boruchowitz, offering a metaphor that wasn’t needed and no one asked for.