‘Upstream Color,’ more cinematically accomplished than Primer and just as mind-bendingly audacious

- Advertisement -


Upstream Colorupstream-color-1
Screenplay by Shane Carruth
Directed by Shane Carruth
USA, 2013

As with his first feature Primer, it helps to go into Upstream Color with a self-assured intellect, but I’ll be the first to acknowledge that director Shane Carruth, math major, former engineer and self taught filmmaker, likely has a few IQ points on most of us. Countering any criticism that his previous effort may have been too dense or overly verbose, Carruth answers with a film that is largely silent. Replacing the heady mathematics and breakneck dialogue is a musicality crafted by an ambient score (also by Carruth) and the lyrical repetition of images. Like the work of composer Phillip Glass, themes in Upstream Color reoccur in a cyclical nature.

The lion’s share of the plot (a word largely made subjective in Upstream Color) revolves around Kris (Amy Seimetz), a woman who is curiously abducted and made to eat a worm that gives her assailant almost hypnotic control over her. It’s possible her abductor is a high-school arts teacher, because she is then made to do a series of arts and crafts and assigned some heavy reading before signing over her assets to the mysterious man.

An unspecified amount of time later, the film returns to her, broke, homeless and out of a job. She meets a man, also played by Carruth, on a subway who she reluctantly lets into her life. There is a momentary lull as the two get to know each other, but Carruth doesn’t linger long in the realm of traditional narrative before descending back into a flurry of sight and sound. They eventually marry and a series of events transpire that lead the couple deeper into the frustratingly tangled web created by a sound recordists/pig farmer and the maniacal extortionist/botanist.

More cinematically accomplished than Primer and just as mind-bendingly audacious, for most Upstream Color is likely to be less satisfying, as its plot is largely an afterthought. However, it wouldn’t be fair to say Carruth has a contempt for his viewers. During the Q&A he genuinely seemed to want the film to connect with its audience, but on first viewing, Upstream Color is so overwhelming that most couldn’t help but wonder, “What is your movie about?” Throughout Carruth’s protracted response to that question the phrase he kept returning to was “I don’t know.” And in the end it’s that subjectivity that may be Upstream Color’s greatest strength as well as its most nagging flaw.

-Scott Colquitt


Sharing is caring!

10 Different Types of Financial Aid
Top 10 Richest American Idols
V-Moda Crossfade Wireless
The 5 Most Expensive Wireless Headphones: Ultimate Auditory Clarity
Business man watching business go bankrupt
25 Iconic Companies that Filed for Bankruptcy
Book genres of fiction and nonfiction
22 Different Types of Books (Genres and Non-Fiction Options)
The cast of Married...With Children
25 Little-Known Facts about Married…With Children TV Show
Ice Cube at Straight Outta L.A. at Tribeca Film Festival in 2010
10 Best Ice Cube Movies When You Want to Watch Ice Cube
Luke Evans at the Los Angeles premiere of Beauty And The Beast held at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood
10 Best Luke Evans Movies (He did that?)
whiskey with ice
6 Types of Whiskey – Do You Know Them?
50 Different Types of Nectarines
10 Different Types of Nut Butter
10 Different Types of Papaya (Plus Interesting Facts)
Cars lined up on the road
26 Types of Cars You Can Choose From for Your Ride
Man Riding Bicycle
11 Types of Bicycles – Do You Know Them All?
16 of the Best Online Auto Parts Stores
28 of the Best Online Bicycle Stores
15 Different Types of Goggles
13 Different Types of Dumbbells
15 Awesome Alternatives to Skateboards (Plus Interesting Facts)
Baseball player hitting ball
10 Types of Baseball Bats that Rip the Leather Off the Ball
man holding smartphone with vintage case
11 Types of Cell Phone Cases and Covers to Protect Your Expensive Smartphone
Black and Red Tablet Covers
8 Types of Tablet Cases for Kids, Protection, and Convenience
Camera, lenses and other photography equipments.
45 of the Best Online Photography and Camera Stores
9 Different Types of Website Hosting