Combustible Celluloid Review - Life Upside Down (2023), Cecilia Miniucchi, Cecilia Miniucchi, Bob Odenkirk, Radha Mitchell, Danny Huston, Jeanie Lim, Rosie Fellner, Cyrus Pahlavi, Terence Bernie Hines
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With: Bob Odenkirk, Radha Mitchell, Danny Huston, Jeanie Lim, Rosie Fellner, Cyrus Pahlavi, Terence Bernie Hines
Written by: Cecilia Miniucchi
Directed by: Cecilia Miniucchi
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 92
Date: 01/27/2023

Life Upside Down (2023)

1 Star (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This COVID-era rom-com experiment with a great cast quickly becomes as inert as lockdown was; it's not terribly funny, not terribly emotional, and it winds up not doing or being much of anything.

It's the end of 2019, and married Jonathan Wigglesworth (Bob Odenkirk) runs an art gallery in Los Angeles. He's also having an affair with professor Clarissa Cranes (Radha Mitchell). Jonathan hopes that wealthy writer Paul Hasselberg (Danny Huston) will purchase one of the most expensive pieces to keep the gallery afloat. But then COVID-19 hits.

Paul is reluctant to spend any money on anything frivolous, and Jonathan worries about the future of his business. Stuck at home with his wife (Jeanie Lim), he also begins neglecting Clarissa. Meanwhile, Paul finds his own relationship with his much younger wife, Rita (Rosie Fellner), becoming strained, as he works on his new book. And Darius (Cyrus Pahlavi), a younger man who rents Clarissa's guest house, starts to become her only contact to humanity.

To start, it's difficult to identify with any of the characters in Life Upside Down as they reside in their spacious palaces, playing piano or doing yoga. The movie can't find their human center. They're only privileged symbols, and their awkward interactions smack of a bad Woody Allen imitation. (To the Paul character, everything is just "stupid.") Certain setups, such as Paul inviting his mother to live with him and Rita, and Jonathan urging their twin sons to come home, never go anywhere.

Moreover, the movie can't seem to capture the specific mood of what lockdown was actually like. These characters merely seem bored. Attempts at humor — such as Jonathan trying to get away from his wife for 10 minutes to call Clarissa — are simply flat. And the decision to not show Jonathan's wife's face — or give her a name — is perplexing and distracting.

Worst of all is the echoey soundtrack, as the movie tries to capture lockdown life on Zoom cameras and iPhones. None of it works, and Life Upside Down is a flatline.

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