Thursday, 23 May 2013

REVIEW - UPSIDE DOWN


As far as a high-concept and some stylish visual effects can get you, Upside Down almost goes. It doesn't get there (and it isn't even that far) due to just about every other elemental component of filmmaking, which is to say that Upside Down succeeds on an aesthetic level and utterly no further. Indeed, whereas rote writing and mediocre plotting may have held this film back, diabolical writing and tedious plotting drag it back with such ignominious force that this half-baked product of Juan Solanas' imagination induces a sense of embarrassment in the viewer, above and beyond anything else. What he has is the germ of an idea, which requires far more intelligent and coherent development than he has provided it. No amount of nifty effects, and there are certainly many, can erase the irritation caused by all the haphazard science, all the implausibilities, all the loose ends. No amount of charisma from leads Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst can diminish the glaring lack of detail in their roles, which are employed as mere narrative devices, there to facilitate a range of impressive production and post-production design features. Solanas is unswervingly in the service of his imagery, throwing his mundane plot for a loop or two in tone and pace if one location might require an action sequence or, bizarrely, a dance sequence (mercifully brief). When Solanas yields to the temptation of inducing tension through action, it's a sorry moment, although not completely unsuccessful. I would have preferred more attention on the central romance between Sturgess and Dunst, which is the (purported) propulsion behind all the events herein, and which is too thinly drawn to assume the level of significance it ought to. And, for all of the film's subtexts of acceptance and integration, Sturgess makes a damn good case for the segregation of actors based on their nationality in his accent alone. The script may be hideous, but so is his American pronunciation.