The Upside of Anger

Not really recommended. This is a movie about a woman, Joan Allen, and her four daughters whose father walks out on them for a secretary, and the woman is left to deal with her anger, while she falls for a washed up Baseball star played by Kevin Costner as he courts her with beer can firmly in hand, as both are drunks. The characters are eminently interesting, (except for their drunkenness), good acting and dialogue and great human drama. But the problem I have is it’s modernism in relationships as well as it’s basic lack of story. It is a family drama without much plot, so it would lose my interest. Oh, there’s some story with a daughter getting an ulcer from worrying about her lack of acceptance by the mom, and Costner pursuing Allen a little, and a subplot of an older guy dating one of the younger daughters. In an illuminating moment, the mother scolds the guy for such age abuse of dating a young girl. BUT SHE DOES NOTHING TO STOP IT. And when she catches them in bed, she just gets all flustered, BUT DOES NOTHING TO STOP IT. And worse, off, the filmmaker never portrays this as a weakness that is overcome or even realized. It is just part of life. One good moment is when the older guy responds to the mom that older women his age are not worth it because they aren’t grateful, but are selfishly obsessed with themselves and their agendas. Some good insights, but mostly piece-meal. Another problem is that the Costner character provides no real redemption and is himself a loser whose only quality is to recognize that when he is “With her and her girls, he knows everything is great and how it’s supposed to be.” Whoopy do. Like that is a great insight into love? Almost, but not quite. Rather than the motivation to be better people, this story’s understanding of love is a feeling of happiness or comfort or “fittedness.” This is a story that has great potential for meaningful significance, but never quite achieves it, yet captures some good human drama and conflict. The problem with this is the problem I have with so-called “realism.” Realism, with it’s modern elevation of dysfunction without redemption is used as a disguise for nihilism or humanistic cynicism. When a discovery is made and Joan realizes that she was wrong about everything she thought about her husband, the pseudo-wise young daughter narrates that the upside of anger is how it brought out who her mother really was or some kind of psychobabble, when in fact, her mother was a complete failure who did not learn her lesson and really just hurt others and herself because of her bitterness and anger, AND IT WAS ALL NECESSARILY WRONG because it was founded on a fallacy. So, really it should show how worthless and negative anger is in destroying or hurting lives, especially, when it is often wrong in its assumptions anyway. An opportunity for a profound insight into the nature of anger and how to be redeemed from it, was in my opinion, profoundly missed. GREAT acting though, too bad.