Review: Upside Down
PLOT: In this futuristic interplanetary tale, a forbidden romance blossoms between a wealthy professional and a lower-class inventor. Their relationship is made all the more complicated since they are from different planets – both of which are connected in this bizarre solar system with opposing gravitational pull.
UPSIDE DOWN is a ridiculously beautiful film. Two planets connected, each with their own gravitational pull, is a wondrous sight. This interplanetary love story is whimsical and inspired as it tells the story of twin worlds and the two lovers who cannot be together. Jim Sturgess plays a young man from the lower class planet, one who has the intellect to create something amazing which could possibly affect gravity. Kirsten Dunst is the object of his affection that lives and works on the wealthier planet far out of reach of someone in his position. While the two meet when they are younger, they are separated only to be reunited ten years later.
This is the beginning of an unusual and provocative love story. Borrowing from Adam and Eve as well as Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” UPSIDE DOWN attempts to be more than a simple romance. The film also happens to feature a not so subtle statement on social class as well as the corruption of greed. While there is a certain heavy handedness to the proceedings, there is much to admire in this modern day starry-eyed drama.
Directed by Juan Solanas, this dreamy feature is filled with exceptionally creative views of two worlds connected. How each is affected by the other and how the social classes connect is incredibly unique. Even the simplest set pieces’ which includes an office or a series of cubicles is brilliantly designed. This world is an elaborately staged visual feast from the director who is a former photographer. He and cinematographer Pierre Gill pull the audience into this stunning and strange new world. There is nary a single moment here that does not impress, even when the script – also written by Solanas – does not.
This story of forbidden love is so gorgeously crafted that it is easy to forgive some of the flaws within the screenplay itself. Oftentimes science fiction is grounded in enough reality that it is easy to believe in whatever story the filmmaker is trying to tell. With UPSIDE DOWN however, this drama traipses over details that feel incomplete within the context of the film. In the final few moments, something is revealed which comes out of nowhere and you have to just accept that it is so. Of course while the script suffers slightly from problematic writing, the story itself along with the visuals are simply too sumptuous to resist.
Sturgess is the Romeo to Dunst’ Juliet. He is perfect as the hopelessly love-struck young man who also happens to be a bit of a genius. The early narration he offers feels a little strange and melodramatic but once we see things in his world, it is easy to root for him. The same goes for Dunst who shines in this, much like she did in the recent MELANCHOLIA. These two lovers are absolutely compelling and easily transcend the occasionally loopy dialogue. Timothy Spall is also quite effective as an office friend of Sturgess’ Adam. Did I happen to mention the two lover’s names Adam and Eden? Clearly there are a bevy of classic references surrounding this tale.
With the amazing visuals and the strong lead performances, there is also real beauty in the score by Benoît Charest which adds ethereal texture to this fascinating film. If only the script didn’t feel as scattered this could have been a truly magnificent work. As well there may be audiences who find the sentimental quality to be little heavy-handed. UPSIDE DOWN may be flawed, yet it is a stunningly original work. Give me that over a typical cinematic romance any day.