Bot­tle bud­dies

THE UP­SIDE OF ANGER Di­rected by Mike Binder. Star­ring Joan Allen, Kevin Cost­ner, Erika Christensen, Evan Rachel Wood, Keri Rus­sell, Ali­cia Witt, Mike Binder 15A cert, Cineworld/UCI Tal­laght/Vue, Dublin, 116 min

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film reviews - DON­ALD CLARKE

REIGN Over Me, Mike Binder’s re­cent treat­ment of post-9/11 trauma, did not find many friends among pun­ters or crit­ics, but its re­lease ap­pears to have be­lat­edly alerted Euro­pean dis­trib­u­tors to the ex­is­tence of an ear­lier, marginally more di­gestible film by the di­rec­tor.

The Up­side of Anger, which was re­leased in the US in 2005, comes across like the pilot for a classy HBO com­edy-drama. Bor­row­ing cer­tain sit­u­a­tions from Terms of En­dear­ment, the pic­ture does sen­si­ble, if un­sur­pris­ing things with Kevin Cost­ner and Joan Allen as it tells a faintly soapy tale of dis­ap­point­ment from the US sub­urbs. There are worse things.

As if you needed to be told, Cost­ner plays a washed-up ball player with a taste for the booze. The role is to Kevin what the Lit­tle Tramp is to Chap­lin and the lit­tle cretin is to Rob Sch­nei­der and, to be fair, he con­tin­ues to carry it off with a de­gree of charm.

Allen, again not stray­ing far from type, ap­pears as his frayed, brit­tle neigh­bour, the mother of four daugh­ters, who is cop­ing badly with be­ing aban­doned by her thought­less hus­band. Both adults share a taste for day­time booz­ing and a sus­pi­cion that their op­tions in life are fast run­ning out.

Af­ter be­com­ing friends and then lovers, they slowly come to re­alise that, de­spite their driv­ing one an­other crazy, a life to­gether might be bet­ter than any of those di­min­ish­ing al­ter­na­tives.

There is, the pompous ti­tle aside, plenty wrong with The Up­side of Anger. The vogu­ish ac­tors play­ing the daugh­ters get to do dif­fer­ent things – one scores with Kevin’s creepy col­league, an­other falls ill, a third gets mar­ried – but each seems to be in­hab­it­ing the same per­son­al­ity. Also, the leads, nei­ther of whom could sur­vive a sec­ond against the he­roes of Who’s Afraid of Vir­ginia Woolf, never quite be­have as the prop­erly drunk do.

Still, Binder’s film is sin­cerely meant and con­sis­tently wry. It should pass the time well enough while you await the next re­run of Six Feet Un­der.

Cost­ner and Allen: never quite be­have as the prop­erly drunk do

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