Monday, 8 April 2013

Upside Down, dir/wr. Juan Diego Solanas, st. Jim Sturgess, Kirsten Dunst

What a shame that such an inventive and hi-concept idea, bursting with ideas visual and scientific, needs to arrive laden with such leaden storytelling and the incredulity that the film-makers can't even manage a simple love story without reducing it to double-take, head-scratching plot developments and one-dimensional characterisation. Adam (Sturgess) and Eden (Dunst) are two characters from households very much unalike in dignity; 'Up' is prosperous and affluent while 'Down' is poor and disadvantaged. No doubt Cameron and Osborne would have 'Down' as a crime-ridden utopia of filth, corruption, and degeneration, but Solanas depicts it as a sort of Industrial Britain - sooty, oily, but with the kind of decent hardworking folk you might find in a Hovis ad. These are two worlds on top of each other. Down is up and up is down. Think Ellen Page folding a city on to itself in Inception. A single immense tower block that houses 'Transworld' (a kind of Murdoch-owned conglomerate) is the only structure that links the two worlds. The allegorical setting is the perfect setting for a troubled love affair, frustratingly unimaginatively utilised.  Sturgess and Dunst appeal but the script appears to have been written by a group of first year Drama School students thrown together to devise a story by way of a first-day induction exercise. Many of the patchwork of ideas that make up this ungainly melange are actually half-way decent. There's a notion, for instance, that although each subject's homeworld gravity acts upon and stays with them no matter which world one is in, there might exist bees whose pollen acts as a kind of organic antigravity matter, but once used as a crude Macguffin, it's discarded. With a plot that was ironed out and carefully reconstructed this could have been something really very special, a sci-fi movie that taps into the kind of multi-world trans-physics dream-weirdness we've all experienced when asleep, but alas, Upside Down is nothing more than a glorified (albeit successful) VFX showreel.