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4.2 out of 5 stars29
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 5 November 2007
The Upside of Anger is a film about a woman's descent into alcoholism after her husband abandons her (and their 4 teenage daughters) without a word or a backward glance.

Joan Allen puts in an extraordinary performance as the angry, bitter wife, matched (and I never thought I would say this) by Kevin Costner's performance as the drunken neighbour, a faded baseball star turned DJ.

Kevin plays a great drunk and is also convincing as a man intrigued by the femininity of the household he has suddenly become a part of. That all woman household is definitely a bewitching thing to watch and observe, with beautifully choreographed scenes in the kitchen, as the girls pick up the pieces of suburban life for their mother.

What is less convincing is the turnaround, particularly of Kevin Costner's character. He is altogether too unselfish and empathetic; his redemption too easy and straightforward.

Which is a great shame, because a film that looked like it would be a really insightful, emotionally complex piece turns into something altogether too pat and bland to be entirely satisfying. I'd still recommend it, if you want to watch a romance with a bit of bite to match the humour, and are in the mood for something a bit soapy.
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Should anybody ever ask you the meaning of the idiom "tightly wound", you only need recommend THE UPSIDE OF ANGER as a visual explanation.
Joan Allen stars as Terry Wolfmeyer, the middle-aged mother of four daughters precipitously abandoned by her husband, who's apparently run off to Scandinavia with his Swedish personal secretary. Terry internalizes her tremendous rage, and only just manages to control it with constant alcohol consumption. Her composure is further taxed by daughters Andy (Erika Christensen), "Popeye" (Evan Rachel Wood), Emily (Keri Russell), and Hadley (Alicia Witt) - all of whom are making life choices regarding love, sex, and education with which Mom vehemently disagrees. Circling the periphery of the Wolfmeyer household looking for a romantic opportunity with Terry is Denny Davies (Kevin Costner), an easy going but lonely ex-baseball star who subsists on beer and the money earned from autographing baseballs and hosting a radio talk show.
Once again, Allen demonstrates that her acting ability is a national treasure. Is it too soon in the 2005 film season to mention Academy Award? And Costner, who's had his Big Screen ups and downs, hits it just right with Davies, a role perhaps suggesting a composite of the characters he played in BULL DURHAM and TIN CUP. The young actresses playing the daughters are all beautiful and delightful, though it stretched my credulity to believe that they were siblings. And I think that there was one sister too many. (As in the planting of garden trees, three is the "right" number.)
It's enormously refreshing both to see a love story involving a man and woman, albeit boozy walking wounded, on the down slope of middle-age, and to see at work a talented actress (Allen), who, at least for this production, managed to crack the infamous age ceiling traditionally imposed on female leads. You go, girl!
Anger, though caustic to the soul, can also keep one going during bad times. Here, when Terry's mental crutch is suddenly yanked away late in the film by a surprising discovery in the woods in back of her house, she must emotionally evolve, and do it fast or sanity is lost.
For those viewers on the far side of forty, THE UPSIDE OF ANGER should prove to be an enormously engaging movie experience about relationships and inner salvation. While it won't, perhaps, prove to be the best film of 2005, it'll certainly be in the Top 20.
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on 1 September 2015
Mike Binder is a fine director specialized in comedies and dramas (Reign over me, The mind of the married man).
He has an apparently simple yet not common touch, since his film and tv series are always very well centered and balanced on tone of voice, genres, and general portray of his characters, whose personalities reveal gradually, along stories that seem to unfold very naturally, in a continuum where drama, romance, comedy, and deeper issues or topics emerge along the flow.

He has a certain grace that you can find in this film, too, one of his best, btw.
Costner gives a mature, naturally appealing and almost "casual" performance, where you really can't tell how serious and intimate or how self ironic and lighthearted he can get.
Exactly like this film, who touches important things of life but with no emphasis at all.
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VINE VOICEon 6 September 2005
I loved this film. But I recognize it's not for everyone.
The theme reeks of an Ordinary People -- a pot-bellied Kevin Costner shacks up with his friend's abandoned wife (Joan Allen) to guzzle sixpacks like their plane is going down. Thus brews a school-girlish game of attraction, complete with giggles and hiding in the backyard, punctuated in parts by digressions of Allen's four daughters and some choice characters with varying levels of relevance to the theme.
Recapping this moments-film would work as much as it would for the ilk of American Beauty or Ice Storm. Cheeky homages to urban cluelessness, studies of ordinary people in ordinary towns facing ordinary problems.
But there's an extraordinary flair, a rhythm, to the way their stories are told. You keep watching because you relate to the characters and mull over their predicament long after the credits have rolled. The bookish narration may be one downside, you think, but traces of good humor and some taut acting all round are surely the upsides of anger and they make up handsomely.
One for the discerning types. You may want to skip it if the relaxed rhythm of movies like Sideways or American Beauty ticks you off, but I recommend it to people with a taste for nuanced cinema.
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This is the story of two 'messed-up' neighbours, an ex-baseball star (Kevin Costner) and a deserted wife (Joan Allen) and her children. Forget the tag lines on the DVD case, this is not `furiously funny' (don't you just hate marketing blurb?!). The humour is there, but mingled with the trials and tribulations of two seriously damaged people, who can't make up their minds if they are good for each other.
Joan Allen steals the show as the acidic and bordering alcoholic wife, deserted by her husband, whilst Costner is the sportsman turned radio presenter, who can't deal with a life after stardom and is reduced to hosting a radio show, a man who obviously likes a beer or twelve!!
If you want a film that looks at human interactions, rather than an all-action movie, then get this, as it has a neat twist in the tail.
Not a classic and not particularly fast paced, but a decent bit of entertainment for a couple of hours (unless you don't like Costner and his love of baseball linked movies)!!!!
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on 6 October 2007
Mike Binder wrote, directed and is a suport actor in this fun movie about anger. It stars Joan Allen and Kevin Costner. The entire ensemble cast of this movie were great in making this movie flow.

The movie follows the journey of a wife and mother whose husband unexpectedly disappears and leaves them alone. Now the family has to learn to deal with the anger of his not being there. The family has four daughters and they need to juggle their mom's romantic dilemmas and family dynamics that continually change. Kevin Costner plays a former baseball player, now radio DJ, who starts to fall for the family.

The true story of the movie is about anger. How it can stop and change your life if you let it. And even though the female lead is angry, she is dealing with a tough time in her life. But most of all the movie shows that anger is a waste of time and that you should not make assumptions. Always check your facts first.
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on 17 September 2011
For me, the overall mood of this film is quite dark. There is a thread of humour running through it at times, but it struggles to surface. The actors/actresses play their parts well, but, even allowing for the depressing situation she finds herself in, I found Joan Allen`s portrayal too relentlessly grim.
The family, and Kevin Costner`s character, have extremely difficult life experiences to deal with (or not deal with), but I ended up not caring very much about what happened to them.
Costner`s role was quite amusing, but for me there was not enough "lightness of touch" to help balance the downbeat nature of the film. One of the reviews on the dvd case said that it was "uproariously funny". I do realise that humour is always a very personal matter, and I can only give my own opinion.....for me it was not funny, and overall not a great film.
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on 24 October 2010
It looks like the kind of film that only a film critic could ever love. It was much better than I expected. It might be a bit inconsequential and TV movie like, but it was engaging and funny and dramatic enough to sustain its near two hour running time. It felt like it was adapted from a novel as the subject matter and the way it was presented feels more naturally suited to a book rather than as an expensive, glossy film.

Joan Allen gets a great role of a prickly, difficult woman full of rage who isn't shy about lashing out at everyone.

A solid film of some merit that I can see myself returning to from time to time. I liked it and I'm very glad I took a chance on it.

If you liked this film then I suggest reading Freedom by Jonathan Franzen as his novel covers similar family stuff.
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on 4 June 2009
An impressive cast lead by Joan Allen as a wife whose husband disappears. Kevin Costner co-stars as Allen's romantic interest, and gives an excellent performance. Also includes substantial roles for Erika Christensen, Alicia Witt, Keri Russell, and Evan Rachel Wood as Allen's daughters.

This is Joan Allen's film though, and she does a wonderful job of playing a woman who is consumed with so much anger that she becomes depressed and alcoholic. Whilst it might be billed as a comedy there is a strong sense of drama throughout. The 'twist' ending panned by many critics I found to be an excellent conclusion, and not one I had seen coming.

There is a theatrical trailer, sound is 5.1 or stereo, English subtitles are available, and the transfer to DVD is crystal clear.
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VINE VOICEon 17 August 2007
This is a movie about a time in your life when your fundamental believes are challenged.

Setting is a typical affluent, suburban setting: well do family, nice house, nice area, nice kids in short everything nice. Suddenly husband disappears seemingly with his Swedish secretary and fall falls apart, at least it seems to be. Mother takes up drinking and her equally drinking neighbour, daughter drops out of school, take elderly lover, the other gets pregnant and the other one dances her into ill-health. There are horrible scenes; one feels the hurt, the confusion, the frustration, the anger, wanting to lash out. But there is more: there is the memory of good times, the knowledge what is right and good, the love for each other but all is cover by anger. Nevertheless the anger helps to get over the initial shock, the feeling of betrayal. But anger has to stop because one gets lost in self-pity and that leads nowhere. And it does and step by step all characters get back on track, even stronger than before. When the final shock occurs, but here they have already made it and cope with it.

The movie is nicely done, well played, of course in many ways very American, but there is a great message. It is an inspiration. I liked very much Joan Allen. With Kevin Costner I always had and properly will have my problems. But he does not too badly here.

Anger changes situation and people, it might be necessary for a time but it should never be the long-term solution. So enjoy it!!!
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