Review by Sean Boelman
During the COVID-19 pandemic, some productions implemented strict isolation and testing procedures to protect their cast and crew, and others found a way to film remotely. Life Upside Down is an example of the latter — coming out well after the ease of restrictions on production — and not a very impressive one at that.
The movie follows a group of interconnected couples as they are each stuck at home during the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown, uprooting their high-society lives. It’s the same type of pretentious rich people romantic comedy we have seen dozens of times before, except this time, it’s against the backdrop of the pandemic.
The idea of a COVID-era affair happening through screens is intriguing in concept, but in execution, it’s frustratingly uncinematic. Ultimately, a socially-distanced affair doesn’t feel too much different from texting someone other than one’s own partner. As a result, the only thing about this film that promises to offer any real insight feels frustratingly shallow.
Many viewers may be put off by the characters who, quite frankly, are pompous assholes. However, it’s clear that Miniucchi wanted to use this as part of her message — even the richest among us were affected by the devastation of the pandemic. Is it effective? Not particularly. It’s hard to care too much about someone living in a mansion as they lose their jobs and have to “hold on to their cash.” Still, one can’t fault the movie for lack of trying.
Miniucchi was able to assemble an A-list ensemble for the film, likely because they were all sitting at home with little else to do in their time. Bob Odenkirk, Radha Mitchell, and Danny Huston all do their best in their roles and infuse the movie with something that at least resembles humanity, but they shouldn’t have to be straining so hard when the film is attempting to capture such a communal experience.
Given that the film has such a talented ensemble, it really should be a lot funnier than it is. It’s not so much that the jokes are unfunny as it is that there aren’t many jokes to be found in the script. Instead, what we get is a bunch of rich people complaining and going “woe is me,” which grows rather tedious after a while.
Of course, as is the case with many movies that were shot remotely, the cinematography is very obviously poor-quality and DIY. You have to cut the film some slack given that it was shot in a time with such limited resources, but one has to wonder why a movie with such simplistic coverage took this long to reach audiences.
Ultimately, it feels like Life Upside Down came out a year or two too late. Back then, more people might have enjoyed this as a guerilla-style showcase for some of the industry’s most talented actors. But at this point, it feels too shallow to force us to recall a time of our lives which is still too fresh in our memories.
Life Upside Down is now on VOD.