As “The Matrix” so pleasingly proved, sometimes all a science-fiction flick needs, in order to snare the intrigue of its audience, is a good hook; screw the giant robots and three-breasted women, give us a concept we can dig.
And like the Wachowski’s high-concept ’90s classic of our previous para, “Upside Down” uses the ‘secret world’ device to rob our attention. But unlike the former, the world in writer/director Juan Solanas’s French-Canadian co-prod is visible – just ostensibly not reachable.
Doused in a super-sized tray of fantastical colour and effect (think the colour palette of “What Dreams May Come” but with the brighter shades used more sparingly), “Upside Down” is an artsy dazzler set in a world in which another, erm, world, slightly better off than our own, exists in the sky. Yes, that’s right, instead of clouds, there’s an upside-down world up there – with both worlds embodying gravities that pull in different directions. Even if we could jump up there, we, the poor folk, aren’t allowed – that pretty flip-side is for the well-heeled and luckier of the human race. Geddit?
Adam (Jim Sturgess) and Eve (Kirsten Dunst) meet, inconveniently upside down, when they both cross paths at their world’s highest peaks. Determined to come down below, she loses her grip and falls backwards – resulting in a motionless body and a pool of blood. He, haven taking to the pretty, pleasant girl (as the audience will, Dunst is her typically sweetie self), is understandably distraught but unable to do anything for her.
Years later, when Adam glimpses Eve on television he makes it his mission to somehow reach her. Thanks to some scientific gifts that get him through the door (so to speak), a fake identity, and a whole lot of courage, the young man makes it into Eve’s world. When he finally comes face-to-face with her, he’s shocked to discover she doesn’t remember him, nor anything of recent years – having knocked her head so badly, when she fell.
Bad luck. Roll Credits. The End.
Nah, needless to say, things do start coming back to Eve, and with Adam’s determination to not only remain ‘upside down’ with her, two do ultimately become one.
So it sounds as stupid as the snot-flicker that use to sit across from you in 9th grade, and scientifically, yes, it’s a real joke, but “Upside Down”- even with its implausibility factory, story inconsistencies and plot holes – works because of its simple mesh of intriguing sci-fic and old Hollywood romance.