TIFF 2017 Review: “The Upside” (2017) ★★★★

Neil Burger is an excellent filmmaker whose long list of films keep conquering many movie lovers’ heart. However, The Upside, his latest feature film is one I personally wanted to skip at any cost. And that’s not because of it being a remake but rather its cast, mainly because of Kevin Hart. There was a fear that by his unnecessary sense of humor or the interpretation of his role he can ruin the presence of Bryan Cranston and Nicole Kidman who have top level and even intelligence.

But after the struggle I had with myself, I decided to give it a shot at the Toronto International Film Festival, and to my great surprise, it was not as bad I was expecting, but rather a charming, emotional ride where the movie was able to have a great balance between humor and sadness, while Kevin Hart was finally able to show some kind of acting ability, which is in its own way remarkable.

The original version of The Upside, known as “The Intouchables” follows the story of a paralyzed eccentric millionaire who becomes a good friend with his caregiver, a man who is  just released from prison. During this time, Dell’s stubbornness and Bryan’s inability to resist his new employee’s charming care, they both cross a fine line between an employee-employer relationship that helps Phillip to forget his current helpless condition.

Their special bond is closely monitored by Yvonne (Nicole Kidman), who must ensure that nothing will hurt or damage Phillip’s already weak health condition. It was her who would take care of Phillip until Dell’s appearance, to release Yvonne from such heavy burden. But on top of that, The Upside is beautifully directed film by Neil Burger whose effort to make this film worthwhile watching was noticeable and even more – admirable.

In terms of acting, Bryan Cranston and Nicole Kidman share some sweet moments, where, I must admit, I have never seen Nicole Kidman the way she was in Burger’s film. She was refreshing, brand new and someone who did pressure the movie by her appearance. Everybody had a right balance and nobody overacted, for which the credit must go to Neil Burger who knew how to manage superbly talented actors in one singular scene, while it was Kevin Hart who will surprise many the most – with his somewhat believable acting, I knew nothing about until seeing The Upside.

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