Review: Upstream Color (2013)


Directed by: Shane Carruth | 96 minutes | drama, science fiction | Actors: Amy Seimetz, Shane Carruth, Andrew Sensenig, Thiago Martins, Kathy Carruth, Meredith Burke, Andreon Watson, Ashton Miramontes, Myles McGee, Frank Mosley, Carolyn King, Kerry McCormick, Marco Antonio Rodriguez, Brina Palencia, Lynn Blackburn

After his remarkable debut film ‘Primer’, now a cult hit, you should of course not expect a mainstream popcorn film from independent filmmaker Shane Carruth. Carruth does not make films for people who like to be presented with a predetermined story, but experimental films, experiences more, that make the viewer think, puzzle, leave in amazement (and perhaps frustrated) and – more often than not – decide to repeat the film. want to see. ‘Upstream Color’ is only his second production, but what kind of one. Written, filmed, edited and sounded with the utmost care (almost all tasks can be attributed to Carruth) ‘Upstream Color’ is enchanting, hypnotic, confusing and intriguing.

You can follow endless discussions about the storyline alone, where nobody is actually right. Upstream Color consists of so many layers that multiple interpretations are possible. One of those layers is about the young woman, Kris (Amy Seimetz). After a horrible experience, she wakes up in her car, scared and insecure, somewhere along a busy road. She has no idea how she got there and what happened to her. It turns out that she has lost her job and all her money. Little by little, trying to get her life back on track, she meets Jeff (Shane Caruth), with whom she develops a deep, emotional bond.

Upstream Color is about memories, self-image, human will, nature and our relationship to it. Carruth uses a fascinating way of editing – before you realize what you see, there is another fragment – and has added an alienating soundtrack. Still, the two main characters, most notably Kris, are people you care about from minute one. Seimetz excels in her performance of the traumatized Kris, even when, like a zombie, she passively performs the tasks that The Thief, her abductor, imposes on her. What happens to her is gruesome, inhuman, but it is precisely because of the almost friendly way in which this is shown – with almost no horror-like scenes, you become attached to her.

What you get to see in ‘Upstream Color’ is beyond your average fantasy, but if you pay attention – the film requires your full concentration – it is not difficult to distil some coherence. However, don’t expect to be able to completely dissect the movie, ‘Upstream Color’ is like a cryptogram with no definitive solution. It could well be the ‘Donnie Darko’ of this decade, but a few degrees worse. By creating such a collage of abstract art expressions and extreme dream images, the self-confident Carruth naturally immediately creates a considerable barrier. Even movie buffs who like a challenge will not immediately embrace this film and that is very understandable. But it must be strange if certain fragments from ‘Upstream Color’ do not keep whirling around in your head or in your dreams for days and nights. Fantastic and unforgettable.

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