Throughout the six previous installments of Michael Apted's Up series, the invasive nature of this unique documentary project has regularly come up for discussion, as the interview subjects have aired their discomfort with having their life choices scrutinized by the audience every seven years. 49 Up marks the first time the subjects have really accused Apted of the same transgression, and it makes for combative, scintillating cinema. Over 42 years of knowing these people, Apted has naturally developed quite an intimate relationship with them, which manifests itself this time in the form of squabbling. Specifically, a handful of characters accuse the director of prying too deeply, of having preconceived notions about their potential based on their socioeconomic status, and of editing the footage to highlight those preconceived notions. For the first time we get the sense that multiple characters may opt out before 56 Up can come to air, and it gives the film an electricity that may have been lacking from previous films. Certainly, the natural progression of life -- career changes, illnesses, children and divorce -- has thus far been sufficient to produce some highly watchable cinema. 49 Up has an additional x factor of showing how these people are cracking under the strains of a lifetime under the microscope. Consequently, the film carries with it an inevitable sheen of manipulation. Has it merely been a selfish commitment to a perverse experiment that has caused Apted to push forward all these years? To his credit, Apted stays above the fray, undoubtedly recognizing his culpability in their ennui. Then again, all but one of the original subjects appears on screen. Despite what they might say, these people have been as fascinated seeing their lives on film as we have, and their conflicted feelings only underscore how interesting the project has been.