47 of 52 people found the following review helpful
An Oddly Moving Experience: A Poetic Film Experiment You Will Either Love Or Hate,
This review is from: Upstream Color (Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack) (Blu-ray)
Hypnotic, fascinating, and frustrating, "Upstream Color" is a bold (if not entirely comprehensible) new experience from auteur Shane Carruth. Carruth made a huge splash in the indie film world with his first film "Primer," which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2004. "Primer" has become a bona fide cult classic and a love-it or hate-it proposition. It's an experimental sci-fi effort that wrestles with big ideas and proves that you don't need a huge budget to produce an ambitious mind-bender. It isn't perfect, by any means, but it is a film that challenges conventional movie fare. Much the same can be said about "Upstream Color," I suppose. There is something far more ethereal, however, more haunting. This is not particularly about story and narrative, it is about creating visual poetry. As such, this will surely be a polarizing film.
From my perspective, the first thirty minutes of this ninety minute movie are absolutely spellbinding. Not to give too much away, but this sequence plays out as crazy crime caper in which a man systematically destroys the life of a woman (Amy Siemetz). It's absolutely chilling and completely original. When the woman, now fragile and uncertain, later meets an equally wayward soul (Carruth), they try to piece together some semblance of normalcy. Here the film becomes decidedly more fragmented as they bond AND wrestle with their demons. They, among others, may have shared a similar experience. But what is reality and what is illusion? I may not be smart enough to make sense of all of Carruth's dreamlike vision, but I just relinquished myself to the experience. The movie images start to flow over you. Between pig farming, mind altering worms, an errant sound technician, and Henry David Thoreau's "Walden," you can't be entirely sure where you'll end up! But when you get there, there is surprising emotional resonance (even if you don't understand why exactly).
"Upstream Color" can be aloof and maddening and it may leave you struggling to see Carruth's vision, but it is certainly unlike anything else you'll see this year. I mean that as a compliment, but I'm also going to be conservative in my recommendation. This is a prime example of experimental filmmaking, it is not something that will necessarily speak to a mass audience. Those that love it will proclaim it to be a masterpiece. Those that don't will likely think it's a waste of time. There will probably be very little middle ground in the appreciation (or lack thereof) for this unusual experience. If you need traditional storytelling, this is not for you. I appreciate that Carruth made the film that he wanted, creativity and authorship are dying arts in most movies. It didn't always work for me, but it's well worth checking into for adventuurous audiences. KGHarris, 5/13.
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Initial post: Oct 23, 2013 1:59:25 AM PDT
Carruth plays the "worm dealer" in the beginning as well, so there's yet another dimension to consider when interpreting your experience; deservedly accoladed, and all around quality in the vein of the best, most suggestive thrillers and science-fiction. Great stuff
Posted on Apr 27, 2014 4:41:10 PM PDT
Mad Max says:
LOL ... you predict that we will either love it or hate it. But you gave it a neutral rating. So you neither loved it nor hated it?? ;)
I'm leaning towards loving it, by the way. But unlike Primer, it was a bit too dry to watch twice, to catch all the little things. But either way, it's so much more interesting than most hollywood crap.
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