The Upside Of Anger

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THE UPSIDE OF ANGER, written and directed by Mike Binder in 2005, has a number of quite funny moments and some effective dramatic ones, but there is one quick bit with Joan Allen—simply sitting on a couch with a drink and cigarette—that beautifully, laugh-out-loud sells the whole movie.  No dialogue, just Joan’s expression of her characters mindset, and it’s so full of Beyond-Fed-Up-Woe it could serve as a freeze-frame still for acting classes to study.  I have no idea what Ms.Allen has gone through in her off-camera life, but somewhere in it (she was 49 here) she either observed— or passed through herself— her characters physical manifestation of pure, distilled, 90-proof ‘attitude’.  She was cheated of an Oscar nomination.
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Joan smokes. 

Co-star Kevin Costner also has a good time here, as purely likable as he was way back in Field of Dreams.  The story has Allen and her daughters (Erika Christensen, Keri Russell, Evan Rachel Wood and Alicia Witt) dealing with the aftermath of the husband’s apparent skip-out. Amiable neighbor Kevin enters the circle. Well received critically, mild commercially, it’s a sweet, insightful, surprising way to pass 118 minutes.  Costner’s kick-down-the-door segment is choice. Writer-director Binder also plays an amusing supporting role. Box-office was $28,400,000 on a cost of $12,000,000.

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