Screenplay, Mandujano, Francisco Lorite, adapted from the play by Franco Ambriz. Camera (color), Caio Ortiz; editors, Andrea Yaconi, Mandujano; music, Peter Wetherbee. Reviewed at Dances With Films Festival of the Unknowns (noncompeting), Santa Monica, July 26, 1999. Running time: 93 MIN.
With: Chantal Chamandy, Alex Furth, Francisco Lorite, Anilu Pardo.
Fusing form and content to an unpalatable degree, “Upside Down” is a Gotham indie pic without a compass. As jittery, unformed, uninteresting and messy as its central quartet of lovers, this adaptation of Franco Ambriz’s play fails except in helmer Mario Mandujano’s ability to open up the material, making it impossible to detect project’s stage roots. Neither as fun nor as hip as it thinks it is, pic is a tough sell for even the fringes of fest showcases and lacks sufficient identity as a Latino romantic comedy to connect with ethnic markets.
In frantically rapid fashion, struggling actor Alex (Alex Furth) strikes up romance with stripper-photog Ava (Chantal Chamandy), while Alex’s ex-g.f., kinky , sex-crazed bank exec Lola (Anilu Pardo) launches into an even less likely pairing with obsessive-compulsive ex-cop Nelson (co-producer and co-scribe Francisco Lorite). From early frames, storytelling takes no time to establish or dramatize character bonds and links, confusing carefree with careless, and formlessly jumping from one episode to another until it collapses from sheer filmic entropy. Added bummers include unfunny perfs, poor 35mm blowup from 16 and ultra-shy approach to sex.