The Upside of Anger

Joan Allen plays a mother of four teenage girls in suburban Detroit who's suddenly abandoned by her husband, takes to the bottle, and winds up involved with a neighbor (Kevin Costner), an over-the-hill baseball player and radio personality who drinks too. Writer-director Mike Binder, who plays the least sympathetic character in the movie, has a nice way of handling actors, and Costner is a particular revelation, though Allen is fine as well and the four daughters (Erika Christensen, Keri Russell, Alicia Witt, Evan Rachel Wood) are never less than believable. This loses focus and begins to get a little soggy and moralistic toward the end, but on the whole it's a sensitive and well-observed comedy that's especially adept at handling the characters' rage. R, 116 min.

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