Joan Allen harnesses her often cold screen presence to great effect in much of The Upside of Anger. Her alcoholic über-bitch is a force of nature that Allen keeps grounded in real emotions. She is well-matched by Kevin Costner as a low-key rogue full of both selfishness and self-disgust. Their scenes together have a combination of ease and discomfort that could have held together an entire movie. Sadly, director and writer Mike Binder blindsides the audience with a twist ending that undermines everything that came before. Keeping the fact that is revealed at the end from the audience allows Binder to be lazier than he should be with his characters. A better film about a middle-aged woman consumed by anger would figure out how to show that anger simmering below the surface and occasionally boiling over. Binder's facile ending allows him a shortcut that insults the audience's intelligence. With this very game cast, The Upside of Anger could have aimed to be a sardonic Scenes From a Marriage, but Binder is content to settle for something more along the lines of Inside the Mind of the Bitter Married Woman.
by Perry Seibert review