Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Whichever way you watch ‘Upside Down’, notice how your mind gravitates somewhere else. Perhaps introspectively examining if this film intertwines China Miéville’s mesmerizing sci-fi novel ‘The City and the City’ and Super Mario Galaxy. Or if the trailer you caught ahead of this film’s screening would be far more interesting – ‘Hyde Park On Hudson’. How many times have I eaten at Wendy’s today? Did I brush my teeth? Oh, did I miss Valentine’s?
Mind you, the film is visually spectacular. Snowy mountains and futuristic skyscrapers look majestic as hell; just multiply that by two, and suspend one of them upside down because that’s where the premise of this ridiculous story is set. 10 minutes in and you’ll get the gist of what it’s all about. Almost two hours later, your chin stroking will leave you with an ugly abrasion. If you are the type who scratches your scalp whilst in a state of confusion, I’m sorry for your hair loss.
You see, in this odd universe, there are two gravitational pulls coming from two separate worlds that are conjoined like a Venn diagram. For easy reference, “up” stands for utopia and “down” for dystopia. As for “why”, it’s explained in the film the same way a junkie high on acid would. So forget about that.
The top world is where all the upper-class people live in luxury. They don well-tailored suits, swig champagne with an erected pinkie, and during leisure hours, go for dances at a sprawling ballroom.
Below? Well, it’s pretty much a shithole where nobody seems to know anything about gardening or construction. The grey decimated world is populated with low-skilled workers who curse the sky for their pitiful lives while grease (who cares why) rains on them every day. Their hand-me-down fashion sense is the only affordable trend. They continue to watch the news – on their barely working television sets – of all the great things that go on ‘up’ there even when it pisses them off.
In this interplanetary mess, there’s of course, a forbidden love story. It’s peppered with such blatant metaphors that it would make you sneeze at your date’s face if you’re with one.
Eden (Kristen Dunst looking like she’s waiting for Spiderman) and Adam (Jim Sturgess looking like he’s about to break out into a song and dance a la ‘Across The Universe’) were in love when they were teenagers. However, Eden is from up above and Adam down below, but they be damned if they let gravity stop the pull of their hearts for each other. Aww.
'Upside Down' trailer
Via the powers of a rope, they met constantly on the peaks of their respective inverted mountains that are conveniently located at the same place. In one meeting, Eden slips off the rope, hits her head and forgets that they ever made out in gravity-defying positions. Adam thinks that she’s dead.
Years pass; Adam, heartbroken, distraught and all that, catches her on the news. She’s alive, yay! He sets out to find her not knowing that she doesn’t remember a thing. Here’s where things get so scientifically outrageous that even Paris Hilton would frown upon it.
I’m not going to go into it, except to clue you in that it gets very tedious to watch at this point. To write about this tedium is another thing altogether. I’m sure a manual on engines would be a far better read.
This is Argentinian writer-director Juan Diego Solanas first foray at an English-language film. His previous works are either obscure art-house foreign films or documentaries meant for moviegoers who are into weird hats and sniffing vintage books.
I’m sure Lionel Ritchie will get all lawyer-y with this film. ‘Dancing On The Ceiling’ would have been a compelling film adaptation. I can’t wait for the sequel titled ‘Sideways’ where opposing left- and right-wing citizens fight for their neutral grounds. At the meantime, the only redeeming factor indirectly linked to ‘Upside Down’ is China Miéville’s ‘The City and the City’ – makes for a great V-day gift.