Exhausted by his career-best work to date, Bob Odenkirk finds himself in a struggling patch already. His hot streak, from those glorious highs of Better Call Saul to his dependable lead through Nobody, is already behind him. Odenkirk has struggled to adapt to the post-Vince Gilligan life, although so too has the Breaking Bad writer if Lucky Hank is anything to consider. Is it wrong to be excited about Life Upside Down? Probably. No good can come from a poster where the people on it look warped from A.I.-generated imagery and the literal application of living upside down takes centre stage. What a wacky time life can be, a time where some things may feel, say, upside down. Excellent gambit, Cecilia Miniucchi, your direction stuns as ever.
What does not stun, and what makes for a fascinating experience considering the calibre of talent involved, are the stock piano notes and the crummy editing that places viewers right on the set of a shoddy art gallery. “Psychedelic,” Danny Huston musters when faced with a rainbow colour-graded stock image of some branches. My my, some heavy lifting happens through Life Upside Down. Fedora-wearing Odenkirk, dressed as a nifty hipster who has been rushed through the discount rack of a T.K. Maxx in a recently gentrified suburbia, is given some shaky focus. His work rather than the person is the fixation for Miniucchi, an unconvincing attempt to marry a great artist portraying one that sells stock images in an open-plan gallery. His name is Wigglesworth, which needs no further comment. Funny enough leaving that there, alone, as Wigglesworth is in Life Upside Down.
Anxieties dribble from the light jazz ripped straight from the lower shades of Woody Allen, and where Miniucchi may think of her characters as enlightened artisans, they could not be further from that. Budget constraints can be adapted to but the swinging camera, looking out on art that is objectively expressionless, waxed over by big names as enlightening, is either a grand capturing of mockery or something which attempts to take itself seriously. Flirty yet empty texts, the pandemic-pondering troubles of Life Upside Down mean its lower budget should lend itself to the isolation it was clearly, aimlessly gunning for. Little else happens, affairs and suburban middle-class life are made to look the norm rather than the exception, as is the benefit of those who master this style.
Few have done so and Miniucchi certainly has not. Squandering the potential with wooden supporting performances around those few familiar faces who are somehow roped into this one gives Life Upside Down a disappointing bluntness to it. Dependable star Radha Mitchell gets out of this one lightly, as does Odenkirk. But neither are prepared for the agonisingly poor editing, which feels sloppy and amateurish, the royalty-free trip beats and empty electric guitars gliding over the top of student filmmaking levels of anxiety. Affairs are all well and good if kept hidden and only offending the adulterer, appears to be the takeaway of Life Upside Down. Nothing is quite upside down although leaning against the wall with your head against the ground for a period of time, letting the blood rush there, makes this a more acceptable watch. Those few moments of dizziness are captured by the hour-and-a-half slog that makes up this Odenkirk-led feature.