The Upside Of Anger


Striking a blow for mature women in a Hollywood fixated on foxy ingénues, Joan Allen impresses once again in this acerbic portrait of a Detroit matriarch who turns to booze when her husband deserts her. If only Mike Binder’s American Beauty -style comedy had concentrated on her alone, she might now have that elusive Oscar on her mantelpiece. Instead, he broadens his focus to include Allen’s four long-suffering daughters (Erika Christensen, Alicia Witt, Keri Russell and the excellent Evan Rachel Wood), her horny sports DJ neighbour (Kevin Costner) and his loathsome producer (portrayed by the director). Each comes with their own baggage, turning what could have been a revealing study of one woman’s crisis into a sprawling family soap. “That was a real misstep,” groans Allen after a night of drunken passion with Costner – a line that encapsulates this entertaining but flawed look behind suburbia’s twitching curtains.


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