Upside Down (2012 film)
US release poster
|Directed by||Juan Diego Solanas|
|Produced by||Claude Léger|
|Written by||Juan Diego Solanas|
|Music by||Benoît Charest|
|Edited by||Dominique Fortin|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. (France)|
Icon Entertainment International (UK)
Millennium Entertainment (USA)
The film starts with Adam telling the story of his two-planet home world, unique among planets or planetary systems as it is the only one that has "dual gravity". This phenomenon of dual gravity allows the two planets to orbit each other in what would otherwise be impossibly close proximity. There are three immutable laws of gravity for this two-planet system:
- All matter is pulled by the gravity of the world that it comes from, and not the other.
- An object's weight can be offset using matter from the opposite world (inverse matter).
- After a few hours of contact, matter in contact with inverse matter burns.
The societies of the two worlds are segregated by law. While the upper world (Up Top) is rich and prosperous, the lower (Down Below) is poor. Up Top buys cheap oil from Down Below and sells electricity back to Down Below at higher prices. A person from Down Below going Up Top (or having contact with anyone from Up Top) is strictly forbidden and can be punishable by incarceration or death. People from Up Top regularly visit Down Below to experience novelties like dancing on ceilings. The only physical connection linking the two worlds is the headquarters of the "TransWorld" company.
Adam lives in an orphanage in Down, having lost his parents in an oil refinery explosion. The only living relative he has is his great-aunt, whom he visits every week. His great-aunt has a secret recipe for flying pancakes using pollen from pink bees which gather pollen from both worlds. The recipe has passed through generations and will be inherited by Adam.
As a child, Adam secretly climbs a mountain that gets very close to Up. There he meets Eden, a girl from Up. Years later in their teens, they are in a relationship. They meet on the mountains and Adam uses a rope to pull Eden towards Down, and they head to the woods for a stroll. They are later discovered, and while Adam frantically releases Eden back to her world, he catches a bullet in his arm and drops her. Helpless, he watches Eden lying motionless on the ground as blood oozes from her head. When he returns home, his aunt Becky is arrested and her home is put to the torch.
Ten years later, Adam is now working on creating an anti-gravity product using his great-aunt's recipe. The recipe allows matter to feel both gravitational fields at once. Adam is developing it as a cosmetic product for face-lifts. Then he sees Eden on TV and learns she is alive and works at TransWorld. He finally works out his formula and gets hired by TransWorld to develop the face-lift cream. Adam's plan is to find Eden in TransWorld. In his office he meets Bob, a TransWorld employee from Up who becomes his friend after he helps him obtain rare stamps from Down. Bob offers to help him contact Eden.
With the help of Bob, Adam meets Eden by putting Up-material in his clothes to disguise himself as a worker from Up, using Bob's name as his own. But Eden doesn't recognize him because of amnesia from the accident as a teen. The Up-material in Adam's clothes starts to burn so he has to return to Down. Later on, Bob is fired but as he leaves, he secretly gives Adam his ID to help him exit the TransWorld building and into Up. Later, by calling Eden through Bob's phone, Adam manages to get a date.
Meanwhile, his cosmetic cream becomes of great importance to the company. While Adam is doing a presentation of the cream, Eden enters the lecture hall and discovers his true identity. After she flees the auditorium Adam runs to find her but Bob's ID, having been terminated, lands him in trouble. He escapes to Bob's house. He shows him that mixing liquids from both gravity fields can make a hybrid solution that resists both gravitational fields and simply floats between the two. Adam then reveals that he didn't give TransWorld the main secret ingredient of his compound, leaving the company unable to manufacture the product without him.
With Bob's help, he goes back to the restaurant where he met with Eden before and finds out she has begun to recover old memories of him. But the police arrive and he has to run. Upon returning to his planet he goes to the mountain top where he met Eden. Eden comes to find him and they meet again as they did long ago. But police are on their trail and, as they fail to escape, Eden is arrested while Adam falls the remaining distance between worlds. But he survives because of a vest containing inverse matter which he still had strapped to his torso. TransWorld agrees to drop the charges against Eden if Adam gives them his formula and never contacts Eden again.
Now Adam has gone back to his old life, believing he will never see Eden again. But Eden, not so easily dissuaded, goes to Bob for help. Bob finds Adam and surprises him by showing he can stay Down without the help of the opposite-matter accoutrements; Bob has been able to use Adam's methods to create a way to negate the effect of gravity. Bob tells him he had purchased the patent of his beauty cream before TransWorld attempted to do so. He finishes by informing him that Adam also has a "date" with someone.
The film ends with Eden revealing she has become pregnant with twins, and the camera zooms far out to reveal towering skyscrapers on both sides, showing that both sides have become prosperous, as well as children from both sides interacting by playing basketball.
The film was released on 23 August 2012 in Russia, then on 15 March 2013 in the US, in a limited capacity (11 theaters initially). It was released in France on 27 March 2013 (Mauvais Genre Film Festival) and, more generally, on 1 May 2013 through the local branch of Warner Bros., while the distribution rights were bought by Millennium Entertainment for North America and by Icon for the United Kingdom.
The film became available on Blu-ray and DVD on 25 June 2013.
The French production company Studio 37 initially searched for an American co-producer, and received positive response from Hollywood representatives who read the screenplay. However, because of cultural differences, they decided to look for European partners instead, as they thought it would be essential for the project to be driven primarily by its director. The film was eventually produced by Studio 37, Onyx Films and the Montreal-based company Transfilm, for a budget of $50 million.
Variety reported from the Cannes Film Market in 2009 that Kirsten Dunst and Emile Hirsch were in talks to play the film's two leading roles. A few months later the same magazine reported that Jim Sturgess had been cast instead of Hirsch.
Principal photography started in Hancock, Michigan in February 2010. Filming and post-production were located in the U.S. because of the country's low taxes for film productions. Producer Dimitri Rassam said: "We couldn't have made Upside Down without the French funding system but there was no way we could have shot [in France] because the tax rebate is not attractive enough."
Upside Down received mostly negative reviews from mainstream critics. Most praised the visual style, world-building, acting and originality, but criticized the generic love story, plot holes and convoluted plot, with a score of 27% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 48 reviews, with an average rating of 4.8/10. The site's consensus reads, "In spite of its wonderfully unusual premise and talented cast, Upside Down fails to offer much in the way of compelling drama to anchor its admittedly dazzling visuals."
Mick LaSalle was one of several reviewers who admired the film's "brilliant" and "imaginative basis" while feeling ultimately disappointed, saying its "rich and bizarre premise is supported by fully realized visuals that make the fantastic real... it's all very enjoyable." However, he wrote, "The only problem is that, after creating the most wonderful fantastic frame, Upside Down doesn't devise a picture worthy of it. The story is serviceable. It starts small, and it stays small, even though the circumstances surrounding the story seem to cry out for something bigger."
Wired called the film "an odd and ultimately flawed mix": "If only the story were as original, or as strong, as the film's topsy-turvy look. Unfortunately, Upside Down...invests almost all of its cinematic capital in gravity-defying eye candy." The Star-Ledger also had a mixed reaction, with its reviewer praising the "wonderful visual shock" and its "marvelous sense of space and style" and writing, "Solanas' idea is a pretty audacious one, visually. A political one too, as it turns out that for generations the upper world (think Northern Hemisphere) has been getting fat exploiting the resources of the lower one (think Southern Hemisphere)," but concluding that the film "doesn't really develop its story, or its themes."
Frank Scheck found the film confusing, saying, "You practically need an advanced degree in physics to fully comprehend the convoluted physical machinations depicted in Upside Down, Juan Solanas' dizzyingly loopy sci-fi romance. Depicting the Romeo and Juliet-style romance between lovers from twin planets with opposite gravitational pulls, this head-scratcher boasts visual imagination to spare even as its logistical complexities and heavy-handed symbolism ultimately prove off-putting."
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- Keslassy, Elsa (4 December 2010). "Location shoots flee France". Variety. Retrieved 15 December 2010.
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- LaSalle, Mick (14 March 2013). "Upside Down review: Halfway There". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- Wallace, Lewis (15 March 2013). "Review: Upside Down Soars Visually, But Lacks Gravity". Wired. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
- Whitty, Stephen (15 March 2013). "Upside Down review: Weightless Sci-Fi". New Jersey On-Line. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- Scheck, Frank (14 March 2013). "'Upside Down' Review: Mostly Down". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 16 March 2013.