The Upside of Anger centers around Terry Wolfmeyer, a mature, confident, mother of four whose husband has just gone AWOL (supposedly to start a new life with his Swedish secretary.) Faced with the prospect of him never returning, Terry is thrown into a deep state of denial, depression, and you guessed it: anger. She lashes out in all directions, with everyone close to her (especially her daughters) getting caught in the fray. As played by Joan Allen (in a career best, flawless performance), Terry comes across as a woman who is not quite sure of her place in the world anymore. At 40+, she was not expecting her life to take this turn, and she is caught up in the whirlwind of trying to understand why, after all this time, she has been placed on her own. Joining her in her misery, is the next door neighbor Denny (Kevin Costner), who has reasons of his own for hitting the bottle... and the bottom of the barrel. Kevin Costner, doing a time-worn riff on his previous baseball characters, has never been better. This performance alone (Oscar worthy in itself) should earn him a Get Out Of Jail Free card from all future Waterworld and The Postman diatribes.
Terry and Denny form a mutually exclusive club of anger and self loathing that comforts them both (though no else around them, to be sure) in a time when they both need it the most. To call it a romance would be to simplify their relationship, and the movie itself for that matter. The brilliant thing about The Upside of Anger, is that these people don't feel like movie characters. Allen and Costner turn them into living breathing adults that are quite capable of exhibiting a full range of human imperfections. These are real people with real problems, and we grow to love them despite it all.
Although to mention only Allen and Costner is to discount the fine work from the supporting cast including Kerri Russell, Alicia Witt, Evan Rachael Wood, and Erika Christensen. As Terry's four daughters, each actress brings a lifeforce to these characters, and they are defined in a way that we rarely see in movies of this kind.
Written and directed by Mike Binder (The Mind of a Married Man, Minority Report), The Upside of Anger is a surprisingly mature work that is funny, sad, poignant, and dramatic all at the same time. It's a supremely assured piece with great performances all around, including Binder himself as Costner's slimy talk show producer. It's an unexpected film, sprung from an unexpected source, and I think it's one of 2005's biggest treats.
Screen formats: Color, Widescreen 2.35:1
Subtitles: English; Spanish; Closed Captioned
Language and Sound: English (DTS 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; trailer; director's commentary; cast and crew interview; deleted scenes.
* Commentary - Feature length commentary with actress Joan Allen and director Mike Binder.
* Deleted Scenes - Eight deleted scenes with optional commentary
* Featurette - Creating The Upside of Anger
* Trailer - Original theatrical trailer for The Upside of Anger along with other New Line releases including The Laws of Attraction, Pleasantville, About Schmidt.
There isn't a lot here in the way of Special Features, but this film doesn't really need them. It's a small scaled film, and the features reflect that. Some fascinating aspects still lie within though. The "Creating The Upside of Anger" featurette is interesting because we get to see how hard it was for this film to get greenlit and off the ground. Even though it was a great script, Binder had problems getting a studio to agree to finance it. The deleted scenes are interesting by themselves, but don't add to or take away from the finished product. The best feature on the disc would have to be the commentary by Binder and Allen. They are good humored and Binder, in particular, shows a lot of passion for this project.
He has every right to.
Number of discs: 1 region 1 disc.
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