In this disturbingly twisted thriller, a man and woman are strangely drawn together when they become the victims of a sinister crime. After being attacked outside a club, Kris finds herself back home, but at the mercy of a faceless figure who seems to be controlling her every move. As she begins to lose her grip on reality, Kris meets the equally disturbed, Jeff. The couple must piece together the puzzle in order to track down their attacker and wreak their revenge.
Not your average romcom
- Upstream Colour review by LS
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You rated this film: 3
Basically your eveyrday tale of boy-meets-girl who gets tasered, force fed some kind of worm harvested from the roots of a wild orchid, then hypnotised and made to memorise Thoreau's 'Walden' before having the aforementioned worm transplanted into a piglet with whom she shares some kind of telepathic link. It's classic disturbing body horror with parasitic worms and self-injury, somehow wrapped in Terence Malick sugar rather than David Cronenberg's rather more dark and bitter coating. Fans of Carruth's earlier 'Primer' may appreciate what I can only describe as quantum cinematography and the soundtrack he provided for the film, but you will need to keep a clear head while watching so you can try to figure out just what the hell might be going on.
Films are not designed to be open ended, viewers cling to conclusions and climaxes for satisfactions but every now and then a film comes along that defies expectations, conventions and the much craved final chapter in favour of a piece of cinema that leaves you with more than a lingering thought and a sense that this story has met its logical conclusion.
Upstream Color tells the story of Kris (Amy Seimetz), a woman who is held hostage by a parasitic creature that upends her whole life after she is drugged and manipulated by a mysterious assailant to empty her bank accounts. When she finds herself with nothing she finds solace in the company of Jeff (Director Shane Carruth), a man who understands her mistrust, her desire to be alone and her connection to something other than herself.
The film is a film entirely wrapped up in its messages; the story almost takes a backseat to the questions posed by this ambitious film. Kris and Jeff’s connection is one magnified by Kris’ link with the parasite. The subtle images and thought provoking sequences in the film allow for some wonderful acting by Seimetz who makes Kris thoroughly relatable despite the surreal experience the film creates.
Every shot and frame of the film is filled with light and warmth yet at the same time evokes an almost isolated feel to not only the characters but the viewer. The film demands you stay very much in your own head as you percolate ideas and theories to the meaning of it all, the significance of Kris and Jeff’s journey of discovery together.
Consumed by the idea of the circle of life, Carruth has a radical notion that certain cycles require bending, changing or destroying completely as Kris seeks the reason for her altered state, her unseen symbiosis to something other than herself, other than Jeff.
Poignant and filled with as many possibilities as you can imagine, Upstream Color is a journey through your own mind and Kris’ psyche as the film tries to give you a template for your own version of the story, your own conclusion to an unending tale of desperation, solitude and the beauty of Mother Nature’s process, no matter how weird.