The Upside Of Anger


Directed by: Mike Binder
Written by:Mike Binder
Starring: Joan Allen, Kevin Costner, Erika Christensen, Evan Rachel Wood, Keri Russell, Alicia Witt
Released: May 12, 2005
Grade: A-

In the eyes of her daughters, Terry Wolfmeyer (Allen) was once a vibrant, happy mother.  Now, they all see her as bitter and angry.  Her husband has run off to Sweden with his secretary, her daughters have grown up and Terry seems to have nothing left in her life.

This is my very brief spin on the plot which doesn’t do it justice.  Terry is a complicated woman and for me to try to describe her thoughts and motivations so simply is not right at all.  This is what’s so great about The Upside Of Anger.  She’s a multi-dimensional character who I can’t put into my familiar group of movie stereotypes.

No finer actress deserved the roll than Joan Allen.  In my list of favourite actress released last June, I had her ranked in 8th place on the back of roles including Nixon, Pleasantville, The Contender, The Crucible and The Ice Storm.  She hasn’t had as many roles of late but Allen is superb in Anger.  It’s a shame the film was held off for a January release in the States or else she may have earned a fourth Academy Award nomination.

With Terry’s husband out of the picture, the next-door neighbour makes his move.  Denny (Costner) is a retired baseball player who sees beyond Terry’s fuming façade and likes what he sees.  Terry acts like she wants nothing to do with him but you sense she’s enjoying the attention.  Their relationship has its fair share of twists and turns but it’s as it should be and it’s great to watch.

The other side of Terry’s life is her bond with her four daughters.  They don’t always get along but you realise it’s because they share her mother’s big-headed ideals.  You can’t be wrong in this household.  Director and writer Mike Binder has used his potent script to attract four very promising actresses to play the daughters.  There’s Erika Christensen (Traffic, Swimfan), Evan Rachel Wood (Thirteen), Keri Russell (Felicity, We Were Soldiers) and Alicia Witt (Mr Holland’s Opus, Urban Legend).  Pretty good, huh?

There’s no a lot showing in Australian cinemas at the moment but thankfully here’s one film of substance.  Ordinarily, I’d only expect to see such a quality drama during the Oscar season.  Thankfully, I don’t have to wait until next January.