Urban Cinefile
"Making films is a lot of work, so in order to invest so much time it must be something that I have a passion for"  -Brad Pitt
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



When her husband disappears - presumed to have run away with his Swedish secretary - wife and mother Terry Wolfmeyer (Joan Allen) drowns her sorrows in vodka. Anger overtakes her life and she finds it increasingly difficult to cope with and relate to her four daughters. Hadley (Alicia Witt), the oldest, blames her mother for the family breakdown; Emily (Keri Russell) is stuck in her dreams to be a ballerina; Andy (Erika Christensen) wants to leave school early to get a job; Popeye (Evan Rachel Wood) is impressionable and has a crush on a boy at school. Terry develops a love-hate relationship with her next door neighbour, Denny (Kevin Costner), an ex-baseball star turned radio DJ, who starts out as a drinking buddy, but develops into something much more.

Review by Louise Keller:
A bitingly well-observed story about the highs and lows of relationships and love, The Upside of Anger is a sandwich of warm and funny with a bittersweet filling, as it resonates with heartfelt truths. It's also a showcase for the wonderful talents of Joan Allen, who breathes fire into the role of deserted wife and mother Terry Wolfmeyer, whose life has reached an all-time low when her husband disappears. It must be that Swedish secretary of his, who left around the same time, and Terry is so angry that she can't think straight.

It's this premise that is the starting point for the relationships in Terry's life, firstly with her four daughters, as well as her slobby, drunken neighbour Denny (Kevin Costner). Writer/director Mike Binder who also co-stars as Denny's lecherous radio producer Shep, skews the story with a compelling balance of female and male points of view, bringing a natural shift to the dynamic. His Shep is the kind of skirt-chasing male everyone's mother has warned us to avoid, and Terry is disgusted when he seduces daughter Andy (Erika Christensen) after giving her a job as radio production assistant. Terry wants her girls to live life by the book, with a college education, and certainly not waste time on dreams like Emily (Keri Russell), who aspires to be a ballerina. Hadley (Alicia Witt), the oldest of the four girls, has a mind of her own, and that means marriage and children, while fifteen year old Popeye (Evan Rachel Wood) quietly observes everything that is going on, and finds the common link between herself and that cute guy at school, is the fact they are both from broken homes.

It's a strong cast all round with excellent performances from the four young actresses portraying the daughters. And the role of Denny is a departure for Costner, who is so relaxed, you could be forgiven for thinking he was at home with a bedside table filled with beer instead of books. Denny used to be a baseball star, but now he is a cynical DJ, who never mentions baseball on his radio program. To begin with, the only thing Denny and Terry have in common is their drinking. But soon he gets to like the smell of her house, which zings with life, unlike his own messy pad, which is like a shrine to the life he once led as a sports star. There is a hilarious false start to the consummation the relationship, when Terry heads over for a bedroom encounter, but Denny is terrified and hides in the backyard.

The Upside of Anger takes a close look at how hard it is to love and how difficult it is to say the right thing at the right time. How can one be the person expected of them? And what a magical moment it is, when you can share a moment and put yourself in someone else's place. The French put it simply, but succinctly, with the term 'sympa', and this engaging story about life and love lets us understand it.

The DVD special features may not be plentiful, but they are compelling viewing - candid interviews with the star cast. Costner talks about playing different roles and breaking the mould of being often cast as a heroic character, while Allen (looking glamorous in pale blue satin) enthuses about the comedy aspect of the role of Teri. Director Binder's biggest dilemma was how to keep the characters real, and he tells how lucky he was to have actors who would 'really go for it.' Barefooted Erika Christensen, Evan Rachel Wood and Keri Russell are sitting in directors' chairs as they talk about their experience on the film.

Published October 6, 2005

Email this article

(US/Germany/UK, 2005)

CAST: Joan Allen, Kevin Costner, Erika Christensen, Evan Rachel Wood, Keri Russell, Alicia Witt, Mike Binder, Tom Harper, Dane Christensen, Danny Webb, Magdalena Manville

PRODUCER: Jake Binder, Alex Gartner, Sammy Lee

DIRECTOR: Mike Binder

SCRIPT: Mike Binder


EDITOR: Steve Edwards, Robin Sales

MUSIC: Alexander Desplat


RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes



PRESENTATION: Widescreen; 1.85:1, enhanced for 16:9

SPECIAL FEATURES: Interviews with Kevin Costner, Joan Allen, Mike Binder; Roundtable with Erika Christensen, Evan Rachel Wood, Keri Russell, Alicia Witt

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: October 5, 2005

Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020