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The Best of 2013/Honorable Mention: 'Upside Down'

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Upside Down

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One of the most stunningly original and breathtakingly bold films of 2013, Upside Down, is a dream, a fantasy, a romance and a tale of perseverance. Not to be mistaken as a sci-fi, director Juan Solanas' film resembles the logic of a space opera like Star Wars and Amelie rather than anything remotely scientific. That is because the film's story is mostly designed to be metaphoric.

A teenage boy named Adam played by constant romantic, Jim Strugess, and a teenage girl named Eden played by unapologetically sweet Kirsten Dunst (the similarities to the biblical names is obviously not accidental) converse at the only point where two planets nearly collide: their tallest mountains. If one grew up on one planet, it is nearly impossible to walk normally on the other without “gravity” pulling you back to your own world. This is a literal interpretation of this notion played out in the storytelling, which forces the characters to find ways to meet each other via rope or weights or gravity-defying gel to keep themselves from being ripped away by any force that can keep them apart. If that were not enough, the plot throws another challenge toward Adam: Eden suffers an accident that blurs the memory of Adam. She can only recall him through flashes and dreams. Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst's chemistry is truly convincing even when they are not both onscreen together; dreaming about each other in casual conversations with other characters. With one of these other characters, played by Timothy Spall, is a surprising genuine character—a businessman who finds good hearted deeds to be far more important than always working for the company man. Spall's character becomes a rather helpful partner-in-crime to assist Sturgess' lovesick boy in reuniting with his lost love in an 'office turnover.'

Since the film operates on its own form of logic, the entire experience is something similar to a Franz Kafka novel (as demonstrated extremely well in Orson Welles' The Trial, which appears to have played a giant role in this film visual inspiration) or a Jules Verne novel. It is feels probable, but it is mostly meant to convey a convincing interpretation of meeting your twin flame or true love through dream-like scenarios. The visual effects of this film are exquisite and blend perfectly well with the gorgeous production design. This was clearly a labor of love for the filmmakers as well as a labor of love for the characters.

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