Combustible Celluloid
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With: Kirsten Dunst, Jim Sturgess, Timothy Spall
Written by: Juan Solanas
Directed by: Juan Solanas
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence
Running Time: 100
Date: 15/03/2013

Upside Down (2013)

1 Star (out of 4)

Rock Bottom

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The award-winning Argentinean short film director Juan Solanas makes his English-language feature debut with this astounding failure, a movie that will surely wow audiences with its awesome visuals, but will floor them with its unbelievably awful storytelling. The movie begins with our hero (Jim Sturgess) explaining the rules of the universe to us, and then spends the next 98 minutes trying to avoid or ignore those rules. It can make a viewer's head spin trying to ask questions about how and why anything works.

Adam (Jim Sturgess) lives in an alternate universe where the lower class walks right-side-up on the ground, and the upper class walks upside down on a kind of island in the sky. The two lands are connected by a huge corporate building where everyone works. Otherwise, any connection between the two worlds causes things to burn. As a boy, Adam met and fell in love with a girl from above. But now, as an adult, the grown-up Eden (Kirsten Dunst) has amnesia and doesn't remember him. Adam cooks up a complex scheme to get a job in the big building and woo her again. Meanwhile, a special kind of pink bee pollen is the only thing that connects the two worlds, and could be the answer to all of Adam's problems.

If, somehow, viewers can forgive and get beyond the flimsy rules of this sci-fi universe, then they have the icky, overcooked romance to contend with. The exchanges between these characters are cringe inducing. Worse than failing to generate chemistry, it's a wonder how the one-dimensional Eden would ever look twice at the weird, creepy Adam (Sturgess' performance is irritatingly unbalanced). By the time the final narration kicks in, it's hard not to groan.

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