Movie Review: 'Upside Down' -- 3 stars
Directed by Juan Solanas
Starring Jim Sturgess, Kirsten Dunst
Writer-director Juan Solanas tells an ancient tale in "Upside Down," but he cloaks it in a completely original universe. That's more than you can say for most movies, and it's enough to overcome the weaker parts in this cross-planetary "Romeo and Juliet" about a man and a woman living in two different worlds with equal and opposite gravitational forces that rest on top of one another.
The planet "up top" is rich and glamorous; the world "down below" is run down and impoverished. Look up toward the heavens and instead of the stars, the other planet appears, upside down. Traveling between worlds is forbidden. From the upper planet, which exploits the lower one, comes Eden (Kirsten Dunst). Our hero Adam (Jim Sturgess) spawns from "down below." They meet atop mountains and in swirls of snow, clouds and light. The movie follows their illicit romance as it is interrupted, and then rekindled, ten years later.
To really get with the "Upside Down" program, you have to look past the obviousness of the up/down classism allegory, the unintentional comedy of Sturgess' breathy voiceover and the familiar opposite-side-of-the-tracks romance. The actors are likable and you're invested enough to care about them ending up together, but there isn't the degree of earth-shattering urgency one would expect from this premise.
But Solanas has produced such an immense cinematic vision that the flaws ultimately don't matter. His worlds collide in an expressionistic blur. His is a universe defined by shifting gravity, a corporation called Transworld, where there is a floor that straddles the two planets, a magical pink substance that helps you fly and a faceless bureaucracy of scientists, corporate bigwigs and law-enforcement officials.
A man swims to the middle of the sea and rockets through the sky before plummeting into the water on a different planet. Handsome ballroom dancers twirl about the ceiling, mirroring and inverting the scene below. The camera spins, flips and soars. Sit back and enjoy the show.