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Upside of Anger, The


Stars: Joan Allen, Kevin Costner, Evan Rachel Wood, Erika Christensen, Mike Binder, Alicia Witt, Keri Russell

Director: Mike Binder

This is one of those films where the screen is filled with snow, or autumn leaves, or spring flowers, to indicate the passing of time over a lengthy period.

One should hasten to add that it is, on the whole, a good example of that genre - a comedy-drama revolving round the evolution of a family. That Terry (Allen) should assume her husband has run off with another woman when he vanishes, leaving everything but his wallet behind, is perhaps the weakest aspect of the story, but, since it's the point on which the action pivots, we must overlook it.

At any rate, Terry, who has four daughters (all a lot shorter than her: can't get the actresses these days) but seemingly no friends, hits the bottle big time. Seemingly she is unable to emerge from this painful rehabilitation period, even though she is squired by her equally drink-sodden neighbour Denny (Costner), a faded baseball star who now (precariously) runs a local radio phone-in show.

The girls, naturally, have their own problems. Hadley, the oldest (Witt), rather mars her graduation by announcing she's pregnant. Emily (Russell) wants to be a ballet dancer, though her mother demands she goes to college. Andy (Christensen), the most nubile, gets a job at Denny's radio station and is promptly bedded by his producer (wolfishly played by the film's director). 'Popeye', the youngest (Wood), throws herself at a schoolmate, only to find he's gay.

Allen and Costner are both very good, the latter showing a winning facility for amusing understatement, but the characters' constant bickering may find you leaving the cinema with a bit of a headache.

Alan Frank

USA 2004. UK Distributor: The Works (New Line). Technicolor.
118 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 29 Apr 2007