‘Life Upside Down’ Review: Lotharios, Unmasked

Couples try to navigate relationships in lockdown in this pandemic satire.

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By Amy Nicholson

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Shot remotely over Zoom in May and June of 2020, “Life Upside Down” is among the last of a microgenre that won’t feel interesting for another decade. This tissue-thin social satire, written and directed by Cecilia Miniucchi, pokes its head into how the pandemic affected a wealthy strata of Angelenos. It’s a shallow look at shallow people.

Paul (Danny Huston), an erudite writer, is forced to make conversation with his trophy wife, Rita (Rosie Fellner), who confuses Plato with Play-Doh. Elsewhere in this upper-class enclave, the art gallery owner Jonathan (Bob Odenkirk) struggles to maintain his affair with his avowed soul mate Clarissa (Radha Mitchell), sexting his longtime mistress whenever his actual wife ducks out for groceries.

The premise has potential as a bit of wicked comeuppance. Odenkirk, in particular, is willing to go full louse. (One throwback joke that works is that his character lazily wears his mask halfway, his exposed nose as unwelcome a sight as a flasher on Hollywood Boulevard.) But this is a true time capsule of the earliest days of quarantine, a moment where prognosticators were torn between predicting that divorce rates would spike (in truth, they dipped 12%) or truly believing that this experience might make us all better people. Ultimately, and unconvincingly, Miniucchi cedes to optimism. The score thrums with the power chords of enlightenment and, in a grace note, Fellner’s supposed airhead lands the script’s most insightful line: “Real love is to be at peace with flawed love.”

Life Upside Down
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 28 minutes. In theaters and available to rent or buy on Apple TV, Vudu and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.

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