Here is Adam (Jim Sturgess) and he has a story to tell us about the place he lives in. Far out in space, where the normal rules of science do not apply, there are two planets which are almost touching, but one world has a society which is poor and the other is rich, and not only that but if you stand on one of them the other is upside down hanging above you. There are laws which keep the two worlds from fraternising, although the Transworld Corporation have a business arrangement which sees an oil trade between the two, and an office both societies share, with one community on the equivalent of the ceiling of its partner. But Adam was more interested in finding his Eden (Kirsten Dunst)...
Every once in a while there happens along a film that has a concept as close to original as movies can get, but a percentage of those simply make you realise why nobody tried that before, and Upside Down was one of those. A French film in English, it took its inspiration from a dream its writer and director Juan Solanas had about two mountains, one right side up and above one pointing in the opposite direction, where if one person stood on the summit of one and another stood on the pinnacle of its equivalent, they could reach out and touch each other. Which might have made a twee poster for a teenage girl's bedroom, but was it enough to construct an entire movie around?
Whether it was or not, Solanas was not going to be deterred, and many millions of dollars later the results were released to mass apathy across the globe, though something this crazy could not help but attract an audience of cultists who either were captivated by its fairy tale qualities or were more likely keen to shoot the whole concept down in flames as absolutely ludicrous. The opening ten minutes were undeniably hilarious what with a succession of bizarre images coupled to Sturgess' awestruck narration, his accent joining the other attempts at an American drawl by not sounding quite authentic, and in this case more like a mickey take of Keanu Reeves. With a flying pancake to contend with cooked up courtesy of Adam's doting auntie, what was perhaps just as important was its magic ingredient, pink pollen from special bees.
This pollen has the effect of negating the gravity, which when he grows up Adam opts to use for its most obvious purpose: facelifts for elderly women. In the meantime he pines for his lost love, Eden, who he was getting along with famously, she being a denizen of the upperworld he happened to meet on top of the mountain and before long he was roping her down to his land, kissing her upside down a bit like in Spider-Man but wackier, and fleeing from the authorities who in no way overreact by firing rifles at the kids for their youthful indiscretion. The result? Eden falls back to her planet, is knocked out, get amnesia (!) and goes on to be an executive at Transworld drinking upside down blue cocktails (ever tried to swallow standing on your head?). Our hero spends the intervening years developing his magic cosmetic, then gets a job at the world-linking tower block which also houses the forgetful Eden.
A snag, another one, is that matter from one world will eventually catch fire in its alternate location, so while Adam can visit the upworld by concealing blocks of antigravity metal in his clothes, he only has so long before he has to escape back to his own home planet. Oddly this superfluous detail doesn't affect his clothes or any food he eats, which has you wondering why Solanas deemed it fit for inclusion, but then again there was plenty about this which failed to make sense. One romantic lunch later and Eden is getting her memory back, so what to do about the physics and regulations keeping her apart from the love of her life? The answer lies in Adam's pink powder, which a sacked colleague (Timothy Spall) works on and creates an arbitrary happy ending for the couple, if not anyone with more than a passing interest in science. You had to admire a film so dedicated to sustaining its stupendously preposterous notion - the intricate visuals seemed to be the chief reason for its existence - but neglected to adhere to it when it suited. The urinal scene was something to behold, however. Music by Benoît Charest.